After by Amy Efaw

‘”Sit up straight, ok?  Look the judge right in the eyes when he speaks to you.  You’re going to be nervous, don’t think that you’re not.'”

Devon is just a few months shy of her sixteenth birthday.  She’s an honor student, a soccer star, and has always sworn that she would grow up and be nothing like her mother.

Then it all falls apart.

She didn’t even know she was pregnant.  All of a sudden, it seemed to her, she was lying in the bathroom, with blood everywhere and more pain than she had ever felt before.  And IT was there, a screaming, crying, living representation of her failure.  Who wouldn’t panic?

When a neighbor finds the baby in a trash can, Devon’s perfect world is shattered.  Her advanced classes are replaced with with institutional meals in juvenile detention, state soccer matches with court dates.  Meetings with lawyers, psychiatrists, and other authorities fill her spare time.  Devon transforms, too: from a young woman shrouded in fear and denial, to a person capable of facing her actions.

Efaw uses lots of details; her close observations permeate the book and make the reader feel intimately involved in the story.  The story, because it is told from Devon’s perspective (not in first person, but it’s an omniscient narrator) begins in a very vague, confused way.  It’s a direct reflection of Devon’s state of mind:  she has suffered a severe blood loss, and is in shock.  As the story progresses, she takes more and more responsibility for what happened.  As she does so, the descriptions and details become clearer and clearer.  It’s a great technique and it elevates this novel from what could be a sensational story about a pregnant teen, into something more literary.  I finished this book in a day; I just didn’t want to put it down.

Happy Reading!

Efaw, Amy. After. Viking: New York, 2009. 350 pp.  Grades 9-12.

Author’s website: http://www.amyefaw.com/

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