Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: After

After by Amy Efaw. (Grades 9+)

Summary from ARC:

"Who would leave her own baby in the trash to die? Certainly not someone like Devon - straight-A student, soccer player with Olympic dreams, more mature than her own mother. But desperation and panic drove her to do what most people can't even imagine..."

You guys, I could not put this book down. And that is saying something because I was reading it while I was packing up my entire life and preparing for a out-of-state move.

The premise is ripped from the headlines: teenager Devon gives birth and leaves her baby in the dumpster behind her apartment building. When she's arrested, she claims that she never knew she was pregnant. Is she lying to protect herself? Or has she had some kind of breakdown? Is she guilty of murder?

The book starts right after Devon's given birth and follows her through her subsequent arrest and time in a juvenile detention center while she awaits her trial. It's up to the reader to decide how reliable a narrator Devon is, just as Devon's lawyer and mom are trying to figure out how this could have happened.

One thing I loved about this book is the inside look you get into the jail and Amy Efaw is such a skilled writer that I felt like I was right there beside her. I found the whole process fascinating and the book's unlike anything I'd read before. Did I mention how I couldn't put it down??

Is it an Issue book? I would say it's an Issue book like Speak or Wintergirls is an Issue book. Yes, the premise is ripped from the headlines, but it's more about getting inside Devon's head and examining her motives and her reality. I would highly recommend this title to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson's edgier books and to fans of Jodi Picoult.

(One word of warning: there is placenta within the first twenty pages. This may not be a book for the squeamish.)

After is due out August 11 and I predict that it's gonna be big. Put it on your TBR list right this minute!

Full disclosure: review copy provided by publisher, Viking Juvenile.