Gray, wet, windy. I have made soup (butternut squash - and a beautiful orange that actually matches my dining room walls) and washed the dishes and have done a load of laundry. Nancy Pearl is on the radio and books are in my eyes and books are in my ears. She is talking about Pete Dexter's newest book, Sooner, and now I have to go find my copy to read next.
Sunrise is at 7:18, sunset's at 4:30 and it's so dark then that it compels me to go home and go to bed, there is a compulsion to nest, pilling quilts, pillows and cats around our knees and shoulders. A stack of books to sample...mmm (insert Homer drool sound here)...now that's good livin'.
I read After by Amy Efaw and it is a difficult book to read. Teens will absolutely be riveted by her story. Devon woke up one day in great pain and found herself having a baby. She put it in a garbage bag and threw it away. When the police find her, she denies having given birth, she has absolutely no memory of what happened or how she got to this point.
Devon is a great character, very well-drawn, very much someone you might want to know and her story is realistic. She is smart, responsible, a soccer player; not someone you would expect to be in this situation. Many girls have given birth and have thrown their babies away, many of them are caught and jailed, many more go on with what is left of their lives, holding on to the guilt and denial. Away tells their story well.
Amy Efaw based the story in Tacoma's Remann Hall so the descriptions of what it is like to live in a juvenile facility feel true and the explanations of what goes on prior to and during the court proceedings are fascinating to me. It is a fast-paced and tightly written story and will propel you from page to page.
Devon is a sympathetic character and her struggle to deal with what happened will resonate with those who read After. The psychological and emotional trauma she goes through while remembering what happened is grueling. It is a sad but hopeful look at a horrible thing and I liked it very much. I especially liked the notes at the back about why the book was written. It is an "important" book, like Laurie Halse Anderson's Wintergirls, that shows us what happens when people make certain choices, especially choices they feel they have no control over once they're made.
Age range for After is given as 12. Be aware that it is fairly graphic in its depiction of the birth and clean-up. Viking Books. Hardcover, $17.99.
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