Saturday, June 25, 2011

Book Review: After by Amy Efaw

After is powerful. It’s a book that will keep you thinking long after you read it. 

I think we’ve all heard a lot about teen pregnancy, but After is a book about one possible outcome of teen pregnancy – dumpster babies. Efaw, in the Author’s Note, cites some statistics that are shocking, but also points out that we really don’t know how often this happens because presumably there are babies that are never found.

Devon is a star athlete and an honor student. We learn quite quickly at the beginning of the book that she has given birth in her bathroom and has put the baby in a dumpster behind her apartment. Devon doesn’t remember any of this; she is in denial.

Through most of the book Devon is incarcerated at a juvenile detention facility. She starts out almost catatonic, and throughout the book begins to wake up, and remember. Not only does she remember, but with the help of her lawyer, Dom, she begins to understand how she ended up this way. She begins to see the patterns of her life that allowed this to happen.

I’m not going to say much more about the plot—it’s a journey that I don’t want to spoil for any reader. Devon’s mom is priceless – she’s a horrible mother, but is an authentic, believable character that adds much to the puzzle of Devon’s life. Even the side characters, like Karma who is also an inmate, and Henrietta, one of the guards, add much to the authenticity of the story.

This is a girl story – I can’t see many boys reading this. But teen girls who like realistic problem novels will really enjoy this one. I can’t wait to start pushing this one, because I think it will garner much “word of mouth” popularity among my teens.

I’ve posted about the Illinois’ Abraham Lincoln High School Book Award previously. This book is one of the 2012 nominated titles, and that’s why I read it. 

Published by Viking, 2009
Copy obtained from the library
350 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)
Rating: 4/5

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  1. Well, I've never heard of a book about this issue before, which is a good thing. Are the mental health implications handled sensitively?

  2. I haven't seen many reviews for this one, but I'm really intrigued by the premise. I like it when books are dark but realistic. Fab review :)

  3. I've been wanting to read this one for a LONG time! Great review! I think I'm now going to have to prioritize this one a little higher!


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