Author: Amy Efaw
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Genre: Teen, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Who could do such a thing? How could a mother be so heartless, so cruel as to leave her baby to die?
When a baby is found in the trash, the police begin doing a routine sweep of the apartments around the dumpster in order to see if any of the residents know anything about the abandoned child. There they find Devon Davenport, a straight A student and soccer star, bleeding because she’s just had a baby. All of a sudden, Devon’s life changes irrevocably, with one decision she isn’t even sure she made.
After was a difficult book in a lot of ways. The subject matter, abandoned babies, is simply horrifying. Whenever people see these stories on the news, they often think, “How could someone abandon a helpless infant to die?” In her YA novel, Amy Efaw takes us into the mind of a pregnant girl deeply in denial, and helps us see the thought processes that can lead to such a horrible decision.
Devon was a difficult character to like. For much of the book, she doesn’t seem to care about what happens to her. Devon is in serious trouble, and her lawyer is trying to help her, to put forward the best defense she can, yet Devon doesn’t even seem to have the will to help herself. It’s incredibly frustrating. However, as the reader gets deeper and deeper into the book, it becomes clear what Amy Efaw is doing with her main character. Devon is in denial about what has happened. She can’t face the ramifications of abandoning her child because she hasn’t acknowledged the fact that she did it. It’s a difficult thing to do, write a character with a psychological issue, yet Amy Efaw does it incredibly well.
What’s even more impressive, though, is that Amy Efaw makes Devon a sympathetic character. She isn’t a monster or a person with no conscience or ethics. She has the same desires and needs as any other teenager. While it would be difficult to fully understand the psychology behind the decision to abandon your baby, Efaw does a very good job in making the reader think about the issue without making her main character a horrible person.
After is a novel you simply can’t put down. It hooks you from the very first sentence, taking the reader on an incredible yet horrifying psychological and emotional journey. The book is a difficult one to read; from the graphic descriptions to the consequences of badly made decisions, it’s a serious and weighty book that will make the reader think.