This is a very sad book. It’s well-written, and I definitely wanted to find out what happened to each of the characters, but it was just such a beat-down that I would not say I enjoyed it.
“There was no predicting where life would go. There was no real way for a person to try something out, see if he liked it…because you try it and try it and try it a little longer and next thing it’s who you are.”
Ask Again, Yes starts out with two men: Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope. They work together in the NYPD, and live next door to each other. Francis has a fairly stable home life, with a wife and three daughters — the youngest is Kate, one of the main characters of the novel. Brian’s wife Anne, however, obviously suffers from some sort of mental disorder, and his unhappy household is taking its toll on everyone, including his son Peter. When Peter and Kate become best friends, and eventually more, it drives Anne over the edge — and one night, she shoots Kate’s dad.
The rest of the book is basically fall out from that night — how does it affect Kate and Peter, and their families. This is a book about consequences. Everyone’s actions (or inaction, as in the case of Brian ignoring Anne’s need for help) have long-reaching consequences. Families are shattered and brought back together and broken again. There’s a lot of alcohol and avoidance and hurt feelings. I really wanted a happy ending, but just like in real life, there’s not one to be had. However, small moments of triumph do occur, and that’s what kept me reading.