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