Monday, August 10, 2009

Enchanting Review: After

Young Adult
Viking Juvenile
ISBN# 9780670011834
352 pages
Hardcover – August 11, 2009
Rating: 5 Enchantments

Devon is a straight A student who has never done anything wrong in her life. She has a strong character and a fantastic will that shows through even when the world around her is turning upside down. Polite, and unwilling to cause physical or emotional pain to anyone, Devon is the perfect daughter, athlete and student.

AFTER is the story of what happens when everything goes wrong. Devon makes a life altering decision by abandoning her baby in a garbage can. The resulting story is painful to read and yet strangely addicting. AFTER follows Devon as the juvenile detention system takes hold of her and the courts attempt to decide her fate. Efaw challenges us to ask the question, do we believe that Devon knew what she was doing? Did she plan to hurt her baby? With excellent research backing her up, Efaw gives us a look at the women that make the choice to abandon their babies.

I’m not sure if the word “amazing” is strong enough to describe AFTER. Efaw has managed to create a book that is so powerful that I, for perhaps one of the first times, am having a difficult time coming up with the words to describe it. My only hope is that I can convey at least a fraction of my thoughts and feelings on this book as the entirety of those thoughts and feelings would probably fill up their own thick stack of pages. AFTER is the most emotional and thought provoking book that I have read all year.

Efaw’s writing is so smooth and fluid that it was difficult to remember that I was reading a book and not watching a television show or staring at people in front of me. The emotion and strength that she put into her writing pulled Devon off the page and created a real person. That might be one reason why the story affected me the way that it did. Despite my best intentions, I found myself wishing the worst for Devon at the beginning of the book. That lasted all of three paragraphs and then suddenly my own feelings and desires vanished. All that was left was a little piece of me stuck up in Devon’s head. Her story has been playing constantly through my head and multiple times throughout the days I have found images from the story popping up in my thoughts. The raw emotion that Efaw writes with is so tangible that I’m unsure how a person can refrain from being drawn in.

The best and most unique part of the story, in my opinion, is how relatable Efaw made Devon. The subject matter of the story is fairly dark, but somehow, she made Devon a character that we couldn’t resist following. While the story didn’t by any means make me feel happy, it did make me feel. AFTER gave my brain new ideas to conquer and a different way of thinking to ponder. If ever there was a book that could get people talking and a cold heart to feel emotion, AFTER is it.

Amy Efaw uses her experiences growing up in the military and her West Point Academy education as the background to her writing. She can be found online at

Cinnamon Brown
August 2009

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