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)

Escape from Witchwood Hollow – Jordan Elizabeth Mierek

WitchwoodOn The Cover: Everyone in Arnn – a small farming town with more legends than residents – knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees.

After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to Arnn. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.

Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.

To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness.

How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

Published: October 2014

Why I Chose It: I received a free digital copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The Review:

This book initially intrigued me with the idea of a witch’s legend and the missing children. Mierek’s novel features three women from three different time periods (1600s, 1800s, and 2001) and their stories intertwine around the legend of the witch. I absolutely loved how these stories overlapped, and how Mierek was able to bring together these three women across time by connecting their stories so well.

The one thing I really appreciate about Mierek’s novel is that it kept me interested. I was very curious to see what would happen to each of the three women, and how their stories would connect. There was enough mystery in each of the story lines to keep pushing me forward, and they remained really well balanced against one another. I was never rushing through one character’s chapter to get to another; I was genuinely curious about each one.

Witchwood

Unfortunately there was one very large obstacle that kept me from loving this novel, and that was how disconnected I felt from the characters. While I was curious about their stories, I was never emotionally connected to any of them. I found that the characters showed very little emotion, and what little emotion that was conveyed seemed almost disingenuous. I really wish I could have liked the characters more, but I just couldn’t get invested in them emotionally.

This is one of those stories that is tough to review. I genuinely liked the historical aspect of the story, the connections between the characters, and how the story itself was told. Yet I struggled so much with the characters and trying to become emotionally engaged with the story that I was a little bit put off. Still, this might be worth checking out if you’re a young adult interested in fantasy with multiple time periods.

Rating: 3 / 5

Creativity/Story Telling: 4 / 5
Interest Level: 4 / 5
Character Development: 1 / 5
Emotional Investment: 1 / 5

Quotations:

“Honoria paused beside an apple tree. In the dark, the bark looked like a continuous roll of black velvet wrapped around a thick pole. When she touched it, the roughness snagged her fingertips. Stepping back, a rotten apple squashed beneath her foot. Wonderful, she would have to clean it off her sneakers later. Maybe she should take it back for her aunt’s basket.” p 39

” “Maybe we don’t see her because she fell in a hole?”  Lady Clifford snickered at her brother-in-law’s question. Did the pompous fool really believe the wilderness was scattered with giant holes ready to swallow fleeing virgins? She pictured him in his slashed-sleeve doublet, catching the silk in branches while he waddled through the underbrush like a peacock in a swamp. A giggle caught in her throat.” p 22

“Albertine paused along the roadside. To her right stretched a hayfield, the weeds swaying like ocean waves. Wildflowers poked their heads through the brown and green stalks. To her left lay a hill dotted with oak trees. The green leaves shifted to shades of crimson and gold, the wind making the branches creak. […] This picturesque heaven had become her new home. A grin stretched her lips so wide the corners stung. Soon the fields belonging to her father and husband would become hers. She could run through the hay, laughing, with no one to tell her no, or force her to work, or clean up after a drunken night. Her sister would join her and they would climb trees. Yes, they would climb them as if they were boys. Albertine had never craved boyish pursuits, but the long, thick branches beckoned her into their golden cocoon.” p 53