Wednesday, September 3, 2014

{after}

Devon Sky Davenport, the girl who was supposed to be everything that her mother wasn't, had an ordinary life. She played soccer--the keeper position--, she babysat, she took care of her childish mother. She was a determined and dedicated individual and she had so much promise, until the day when IT happened. Everything vanished at that moment, and life began anew--a life filled with lawyers, cell rooms, and despair. Why? All because of IT.

The thing is...Devon doesn't remember how IT happened. And she doesn't want to remember.


Holy guacamole, this book. I remember seeing it on the shelves at the library a few times, was a little intrigued by the whole soccer player thing (what can I say, it my favourite sport and always will be), but ultimately didn't want to deal with the teenaged pregnancy deal. I was sure it was going to be chock-full of boy-girl drama, parent drama, school drama...and I didn't want to go there. I don't like drama in books. Makes me want to rip my eyeballs out. Or bang my head against a brick wall.

After, by Amy Efaw, was unexpected, to say the least. It happened so fast, so quickly, that I could hardly keep up. When I got down to the past handful of pages, I was so confused and scared. "Wait. There isn't enough page space left for Devon's final trial. This isn't right!!!!" But then the last chapter happened. And everything was right. It was perfect, like an obstinate puzzle piece snapping into place.

Devon was such an curious character. Her narrative was so withdrawn and passive, but it wasn't boring or stilted. You could obviously feel her disconnect with the rest of the world and, indirectly, how lonely she was. I really appreciated how the story didn't revolve around Connor and Devon's relationship, instead focusing on the aftermath of it all. Actually, to be more accurate, the aftermath of the aftermath. You never see Devon completely at Ground Zero--you only get to visit that in incomplete flashbacks. Her personality, as well, was flawless. Her rigid standards for herself, her determination in soccer, her isolation from everything...it all fit together. I loved that she was so true to her character. I never saw a moment  when she switched from a serious, focused person to a flighty, teenaged girl. Even with Connor, she was still herself, and I enjoyed seeing a character as serious as she was. Wish there were more like her.



I have so many favourite things about this book, but I'm going to narrow it down to two things. The first thing that made me fall in love was the imagery in After. I saw everything. I could picture the Davenport's apartment. I could picture the bathroom after That Night. I saw the trash can in my head. Devon's cell, the school room, the trials...they filled my mind perfectly, and yet the author didn't shove the descriptions down my throat. If I could pinpoint one style of writing that I wish I could pull off, it would be After's. I also loved the imagery in the poetry theme, how it aided the flashbacks and how it added to Devon's character.

I don't know if other people experience this, but different books have different colors for me. The Bible, for example, is a rich earthy brown. Eleanor and Park is blue and light brown. After is gray, and the imagery fell perfectly in line with that color. Colorful enough to be interesting, drab enough to fit the story.


My second love in After is the pure psychology of it. Devon rejecting IT. Her mother during the trial. The hesitance of those around Devon to pry into her life. Psychology is something that has always fascinated me, and Efaw did a brilliant job of portraying it accurately. When it was Dr. Bacon's turn to speak during the trial, it helped piece together so many of the broken pieces of the story, for Devon, the judge, and the reader. Even the things that hadn't been directly addressed made sense. I give a double-thumbs up for the author's researching on this.

No book is perfect. Teen pregnancy is somewhat a touchy subject, and so is what happens to babies after their mothers reject them. There are two instances of the f-word smack dab in the middle of the book, but the rest of the language is mainly a light sprinkling of the d-word and the Lord's name in vain. The description of That Night is rough and bloody, but that's just the way the birth process is. So if any of these things are off-putting to you, I'd suggest you steer clear of this book. If not, then I 100% recommend this to you all. It's already on my "To Buy" book list, if that tells you anything. 
 
After is a curious, mind-stretching book, so be careful.
It might take you by surprise, like it did me.

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