Reader: Meghan K
Age: 14
Title: After
Author: Amy Efaw
Publisher: Viking
Pub Date: Aug. 2009
Galley: Yes
Nominate for Teens’ Top 10: Yes
Recommend: Yes
Comments: After is an exceptional book. It's subtle and thought-provoking. I hadn't really ever thought about the mothers of abandoned babies, only about the infants themselves, and After is a book that reverses the situation, looking at the motivations behind leaving an infant to die.
Convince us to read book: This book is wonderfully morally ambiguous. It never excuses Devon's (the protagonist's) actions, but it looks at motivations and reasons for those actions. I really enjoyed how all of the characters weren't portrayed as good or bad. For most characters, we saw their bad side before their good side was revealed. The book is very grey, ethics-wise.
Compelling Aspect of the Book: After is indeed very dark, but not in the way most YA fiction is dark. This is dark in that it delves into the shadier side of the human conscience, rather than lots of black magic or other ploys. The events in After could happen, and were based loosely on real occurrences, which lends it a refreshing sense of reality without being overwhelming. This book is wonderful. I was very curious about what would happen at the book's end, it was unique in that it plays to the mind more than to the emotions. I cared about the characters, but I didn't feel as emotionally involved as I usually do when reading.
More Comments: I think the reason for this is that the book is written in third person present tense. The perspective is that of a silent, uninvolved witness of the proceedings, it seems intimate, like most first person narratives, but referred to Devon as Devon, never I. While difficult to get used to at first, I now realize what a stroke of genius this is. In the story, Devon has emotionally distanced herself from everything that is happening to her, and a first person perspective would've been letting us into her carefully guarded psych, which would have been completely wrong for the book. I think this whole book is brilliant. Certainly not a good choice for everyone, but for people who see the world in shades of grey and like thinking things out should definitely check out After.

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