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Book Review of After

Author: Amy Efaw
Genres: Children's Books, Teen & Young Adult
Book Type: Hardcover
skywriter319 avatar reviewed on + 962 more book reviews

Devon Davenport is a straight-A student, a soccer star on both her high school and club teams, with aspirations for college and the Olympics. So why is she being held in jail on charge of attempted first-degree murder...of the baby she supposedly didn't even know she was carrying inside herself?

As Devon goes about her routine in the detention center, she continuously talks with other adults--as well as herself--in order to try and figure out what was running through her mind for those past nine months, up until that fateful morning when she had given birth and tossed the baby in the dumpster behind her apartment building. What unfolds is a shocking exploration into one teenager's mind--a mind that is perhaps not much different from any one of ours.

Writing a story featuring a protagonist that readers might find hard to sympathize with maybe be rewarding eventually, but it is certainly difficult. Attempting to unravel the complicated minds of a teen girl who has committed an atrocious act is even more challenging. I'm not sure how successful I thought Efaw's attempt at this goal was, but I appreciated her effort nonetheless.

As I mentioned above, Devon is hard to like. Not just because of the deep denial she'd immersed herself in--a denial so thorough that she nearly killed a helpless baby. She also has a personality that does not easily appeal to people. In much of the beginning Devon is often listless and unresponsive to others talking to her, to the point where I wanted to reach into the story and shake her, hard, by the shoulders.

AFTER moves through lengthy and ever-present conversations, encounters, and periods of thoughtfulness. Because so much of the book occurs inside Devon's head, it's best for those who are patient enough to reap the rewards of dealing with a difficult, unlikable protagonist. I would almost consider it more an intense character study than a novel. In fact, AFTER often blurs the line between fiction and reality. You might often feel uncomfortable while working your way through this book. AFTER is not afraid to shake you up and make you wonder about the effects of fiction on reality, and vice versa.

AFTER is a difficult but moving read, and a great choice for adult readers--especially fans of writers like Jodi Picoult--looking for something they can love in YA fiction.

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