After – Amy Efaw

AfterOn The Cover: An infant left in the trash to die. A teenage mother who never knew she was pregnant . . .

Before That Morning, these were the words most often used to describe straight-A student and star soccer player Devon Davenport: responsible, hardworking, mature. But all that changes when the police find Devon home sick from school as they investigate the case of an abandoned baby. Soon the connection is made. Devon has just given birth; the baby in the trash is hers. After That Morning, there’s only one way to define Devon: attempted murderer.

And yet gifted author Amy Efaw does the impossible. She turns Devon into an empathetic character, a girl who was in such deep denial that she refused to believe she was pregnant. Through airtight writing and fast-paced, gripping storytelling, Ms. Efaw takes the reader on Devon’s unforgettable journey toward clarity, acceptance, and redemption.

Published: 2009

Why I Chose It: I was very curious about the story that explored teenage pregnancy and the motives behind her shocking actions.

 


The Review:

This was a really hard book to read because of the content. Knowing the actions of the character before starting the book, I had an initial dislike for the character. Yet from the beginning I was gripped by Devon’s story. I was drawn to Devon as a character, and yet she had done this really horrible act. The strength of the writing in this book is that it drives you to understand how a person reaches the point of doing something like this, of why they do it. As the book progresses, Efaw does an amazing job of building Devon’s character and really digging in to the psychology of her actions.

I absolutely love the way this book was structured. You simultaneously read of Devon’s experience in the juvenile detention centre, while slowly learning about the events leading up to the night of the baby’s birth. I loved the parallel storytelling, because it truly helps to understand Devon’s thoughts and actions throughout this ordeal.While at times the pace might be slow, I do think it’s important, because it forces you to slow down and truly contemplate what Devon is going through, and what consequences her actions have.

After German Edition

Finally, I have to speak about the ending of the book. It is pretty rare that I am 100% in favour of the way a book ends, and I will admit I was really nervous throughout this book. I couldn’t envision a way for the book to end that would satisfy all angles of the story. Yet this ending was, to me, perfect. I love that I was surprised by the ending, and it was one of those moments where I went Oh! That’s perfect. The ending speaks volumes to Devon’s character and really emphasizes the journey that she has taken to get there. I felt it was a very appropriate and satisfying ending.

I’ll say it again: this is a hard book to read. Efaw holds nothing back, from the visuals of the birthing process to the raw emotions experienced, right down to describing the actions of putting a baby in the trash. It is raw and rugged and at times almost traumatic, and I have the utmost respect for this author for tackling this subject, and revealing the desperate measures women are driven to. This is a really powerful read, and I am really glad I picked up this book.

Rating: 4 / 5


Quotations:

“Devon could run. She could just jump up and sprint out of there. But how far would she get? Not very – the leg irons locked around her ankles and the throb deep between her legs and the guard who’s posted near the door with the handcuffs clipped to his back belt loop and the other one who’s sitting at the desk near the front and the maze of hallways that brought her here would all conspire together and prevent it.” (Overdrive 2009)

“Those girls aren’t anything like me, Devon tells herself. They’ve done something bad, really bad, to end up here. The scariest kind of girl is in this place, the kind she’d give a wide berth to while jogging in Wright Park or step away from while waiting for the bus. The kind the police drag out of Stadium High in the middle of class.
She doesn’t belong here.” (Overdrive, 2009)

“So much like being in the goal, she thinks. Moments of intense boredom as the battle is being waged up the field in the offensive half, or moments of extreme stress, when the ball’s in her box and chaos is all around. Players pushing and scrambling to get a foot on the ball. Or, in Devon’s case, a hand. Exhausting not just physically, but also mentally.
That is what sitting in court feels like. But much, much worse. And so much more is riding on it than the outcome of a soccer game.” (Overdrive 2009)

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Let It Snow – John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

Let It SnowOn The Cover: Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Published: 2008

Format: OverDrive

Why I Chose It: I follow Maureen Johnson on Twitter and have been curious about her writing, so when I saw this little Christmas collection with both her and John Green as writers I jumped at the chance to read it!

The Review:

This book contains three short stories, one from each author, so I have chosen to comment on each story, and then give a final overall summary at the end!

The Jubilee Express – Maureen Johnson

Right away this story kicks off the book with something perfect: a Christmas village. One of those collectible things with all the little ceramic houses and you can connect them all to become a light up village. This immediately raised my Christmas spirit, as I definitely know multiple people who collect these villages. I like how the village was incorporated into the story and referenced multiple times. This story is a mushy romance from start to finish, and you really have to suspend all disbelief to be able to go along with the story, but aside from that, it’s fun to read and it made me smile. It easily became my favourite story in this book.

Rating: 3 / 5

A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle – John Green

This story starts out as an adventure with three friends fighting their way through a terrible winter storm to get to a Waffle House full of cheerleaders. I found the premise of the story a little ridiculous, as I didn’t find cheerleaders a strong enough reason to go driving on unplowed, icy roads. The obsession with cheerleaders got very old very fast, and I was incredibly dissatisfied with the sexist language and content used from start to finish. The fact that the main character ends up with a girl who is not a cheerleader is not enough to save this story from leaving a bad taste.

Rating: 1 / 5

Let it Snow UK Cover

The Patron Saint of Pigs – Lauren Myracle

In this story Addie is trying to get over a pre-Christmas breakup, calling in the aid of her friends in her time of crisis. This is the only story I would have liked to see in a longer format. The characters come across as whiny and self-absorbed, with Addie in full-crisis mode, and her friends seemingly not caring about the traumatic breakup. I do believe with more room to hash out the characters, Myracle could have told a much stronger story and I would have come to understand the characters’ points of view much better. I was left feeling uncertain about all characters involved, and at the end when Addie was supposed to have some sort of epiphany, I was left feeling kind of ‘meh’ about the whole thing. While the involvement of a teacup pig was definitely cute and I loved the snowball fight memories, this one just didn’t win me over.

Rating: 2 / 5

The Book as a Whole

I do like the way this book creates a complete world. All of the individual stories overlap, and you see the same characters appearing in the different stories. It was neat to get glimpses of the characters from other people’s perspectives and it created a bigger story for each of the characters. I do feel bad for Myracle, as she had one of the hardest jobs by appearing last in the book. Her story had to bring together all of the characters from all stories and create a big finale. It felt more than a little manufactured and didn’t really leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling at the conclusion of the book.

While overall I didn’t find this book had much wow-factor, it was still fun to read, and it got me into the Christmas spirit. This book is ideal for people who are big fans of these authors, and is a cute read around the holiday season.

Overall Rating: 2 / 5

Let It Snow Portuguese Cover

Quotations:

“Debbie had to get up and slice me a thick piece of cake before she could answer. And I do mean thick. Harry Potter volume seven thick. I could have knocked out a burglar with this piece of cake. Once I tasted it, though, it seemed just the right size. Debbie didn’t fool around when it came to the butter and sugar.” (Johnson, The Jubliee Express, OverDrive 2009)

“JP remained upbeat. ‘Yes! This is going to be fine! There’s a reason that God gave me ripped arms and pecs, dude. It’s so that I can dig your car out of the snow. I don’t even need your help. You just chat among yourselves, and let the Hulk work his magic.’ I looked at JP. He weighed perhaps 145 pounds. Squirrels have more impressive musculature. But JP was unfazed. He tied down the earflaps of his hat. He reached into his oh-so-tight snowsuit, pulled out wool gloves, and turned back to the car.” (Green, A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, OverDrive 2009)

“We ended up having a snowball fight, boys against girls, and it was awesome. […] We dominated the guys until Jeb cut around behind us and tackled me, using his body to drive mine into our snowball pile. Snow went up my nose, and it hurt like heck, but I was too exhilarated to care. I rolled over, laughing, and his face was right there, inches from mine. That was the image captured in the photo.” (Myracle, The Patron Saint of Pigs, OverDrive 2009)

Let It Snow French Cover