Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book Review: After by Amy Efaw


I have to admit that I was a little nervous to read Amy Efaw's After. I had written a grant to get a couple of sets of books for the Chick Lit Book Club and had it funded without even reading the book. I'm not used to assigning or giving out books to students without reading them first, and this book has some pretty disturbing subject matter.

From what I'd read online, I knew that the main character in this book was a teen girl who hid her pregnancy, birthed her baby in secret, and then disposed of the baby in a dumpster. Obviously, this was going to be an intense read no matter what type of spin the author put on the plot. My fear, though, was that this book would come across as offensive or as making light of the situation. Almost as soon as I started reading, I realized that this was not the case.

The main character, Devon, is obviously disturbed mentally and emotionally by her situation. When the story opens, Devon truly has no recollection of giving birth or of putting her child into a dumpster. She is medically unstable and requires hospitalization to recover before she arrested for her crime. Always the perfect student and athlete, Devon does not comprehend her new reality. Over the course of a couple of weeks, though, her hard-nosed attorney helps her to understand the weight of her situation. If tried as an adult, Devon could spend the rest of her life in jail.

I loved Efaw's pace in this novel. She doesn't try to cover the entirety of Devon's situation. We only see a small slice of Devon's life and trial, but we see huge growth in her character during this short time. Though this crime is vile and unforgivable, the author allows some insight as to why teen girls like Devon might avoid reality and hide the truth from their families and friends. According to the author, this type of crime happens almost daily in our country, which was definitely news to me. Once I realized how often this horrific crime is committed, I knew that this book needed to be read by our book club. Hopefully, we'll find a way to talk about this book and this situation in a way that will benefit the Chicks!

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