Book Reviews

Review: This Used to Be Us by Renée Carlino

What’s more dire than a marriage in crisis? One that is already in divorce. This Used to Be Us is about all the ways we fall apart. It’s carefully balanced by the ways we come together, but it examines how two people bonded by love can crumble. Keep reading this book review of This Used to Be Us for my full thoughts.


After twenty-two years together, Danielle and Alex are getting a divorce. Once fiercely in love, they can barely stand the sound of each other’s voice. Instead of shuffling the kids between two broken homes, Alex and Danielle decide to share a nesting apartment while swapping days with their two teenage boys at the family home.

In the apartment, Dani and Alex, on their own, begin to reflect on the last two decades—why they fell in love, and why the marriage fell, spectacularly, apart. With the newfound space and time, they are given a chance to find their autonomous selves again. They both get back in the dating pool, Dani finds major success at work as a showrunner on her own TV project, while Alex faces the challenges of a new relationship.

Still, they find they just can’t stay away from each other, and somehow, the distance allows them to remember (for the first time in years) what they used to love about one another. When a family crisis draws them back into each other’s orbit, Danielle and Alex are, once again, put to the test, which leads to a dramatic conclusion that will have readers weeping.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

This Used to Be Us is an emotional roller coaster. There’s no ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’. It honestly examines the ways people can be a part of the ways our relationship crumbles. The little things we forget to say thank you for, the resentments that build up. All the things we think we know someone will do before they do. It begins by asking how did it all go wrong. And throughout This Used to Be Us that question is asked. Along with and what can we do now?

It’s full of all the snippets of memories and love, the little details and blow out fights. The situations that, in time, ended up being that last crack. Throughout I wasn’t sure, at times, who I empathized more with: Dani or Alex. But that isn’t the point of This Used to Be Us. It’s about both of these characters having lost their way not only together, but also apart. With some emotionally hard hitting titles, this feels like “Exile” in a nutshell. There’s only so long we can feel like we’re screaming into a void before we lose our voice.

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And after the years, we know exactly where to hurt the other. While the ending seemed a bit abrupt, considering the extensive and careful lead up, I enjoyed This Used to Be Us. I always needed to read to the next chapter to figure out what was going to happen. As someone who is in a relationship, and has been for years, this felt like echoes and warning signs. Overall, it’s a book about knowing that life is precious and the people we love even more so. That it’s important to try, to work, to be honest with those we love and ourselves. That sometimes we don’t know ourselves as much as we think we do.

Find This Used to Be Us on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, Blackwells, & Libro. fm.


What is the last book where you said to yourself, “one more chapter”?

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