First, I just HAVE to share the captivating book trailer that Penguin released:
After tells the story of Devon, a girl who was once a completely normal teenager. Scratch that – Devon was never just normal. She was a hardworking straight-A student with an undeniable talent for soccer who as a high school student acted as mature as a college grad. Then one day a newborn baby appears abandoned in a dumpster – the same day that Devon is home sick. It’s not long before the connection is made, identifying the baby as Devon’s and leaving her with multiple criminal charges, the most serious of which being attempted homicide.
I’ve always been horrified and almost disgusted by the concept of dumpster babies, so After really opened my mind. I was incredibly impressed by Amy Efaw’s ability to make Devon a sympathetic character, especially considering that After isn’t even narrated directly by Devon. Amy Efaw creates a likeable though desperate protagonist who is not yet sixteen to make the issue far more complex than today’s media generally makes it out to be. Especially due to the emphasis put on intent, the courtroom scenes were fascinating, and as a reader it felt like you were there in the courtroom with Devon and Dom.
After makes great use of flashbacks to slowly reveal the entire story behind Devon’s pregnancy and her baby’s birth. These flashbacks truly contribute to the novel’s intensity without confusing the reader. Amy Efaw’s characters, especially Devon and her mother, felt very realistic, even when, in the case of Devon’s mother, they weren’t always likeable. I was really moved by the ending and impressed by Devon’s maturity, something you can hardly say about many the protagonists in many young adult novels. Though I only finished reading After a few hours before writing this review, I can say honestly say that I haven’t been able to get my mind off of the book since finishing it. The questions posed by After are incredibly thought provoking, and I expect to continue thinking it over for some time to come. I should warn you, though. After is a gritty novel about a sensitive subject and some of the excerpts are graphic. I believe readers need to approach After knowing you’re in for a serious read in order to really appreciate it. I give it a 9 out of 10.
P.S. Check back tomorrow for an interview with Amy Efaw!!
P.P.S. Don’t you love the cover? The subtlety of the girl’s reflection is ingenious.