Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

It’s book review time!! Before I get started on my review, I want to thank NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Roaring Book Press for allowing me to review Afterward. Now, onto my review.

Afterward: A Novel by [Mathieu, Jennifer]

Format reading in: Kindle, as an ARC

Date of publication: September 20th, 2016

Sites where the book can be found: Amazon

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and Roaring Book Press

Genre: Young Adult

How many pages: 320

Book synopsis:

A tragic kidnapping leads to an unlikely friendship in this novel about finding light in the midst of darkness from the author of The Truth About Alice.

When Caroline’s little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can’t help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can’t see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend–and their best option just might be each other.

My review:

3 things I liked about Afterward:

  1. Ethan, Caroline and Dylan’s characters. I loved each of them and my heart broke for all 3 of them. They each handled the trauma of the kidnapping in different ways. We saw how Dylan handled his trauma through the eyes of Caroline.
  2. The storyline itself. Be ready for tears, starting from the first page. This was a hard book to read but I couldn’t help but be drawn into it. I felt that the author did a great job all around with the whole story.
  3. The ending. Let’s put it this way, the book couldn’t have ended in a better way. Not going to give up the ending but man, it was powerful. It also shows how much a person can heal in a year after a traumatic event.

3 things I disliked about Afterward:

  1. Caroline’s parents. OMG, I couldn’t stand reading about them whenever they came up. They blamed her for Dylan’s disappearance. They didn’t notice that she is hurting and taking it out by doing self-destructive things. They don’t get the help for Dylan that he needs after he is returned. I get it, I do, that 75% of parents out there are like this.I get that the author wrote them to be the polar opposites of Ethan’s parents but still. They got under my skin big time. I wanted to smack her mom at one point in the book.
  2. Ethan’s flashbacks and anxiety attacks. I cried at his first flashback. Like put the book down and sobbed. And cried with each flashback that was revealed to his therapist. I cried at his anxiety attacks. Because as a person with moderate anxiety, I can tell you that what the author wrote was true. I had to do breathing exercises because his attacks were starting to trigger mine.
  3. When Ethan remembers his years of sexual abuse. That is something that you never like to read and I thought the author did a wonderful job of alluding to it. It was so tastefully done and wasn’t graphic at all.

There are a few links that the author included in her author’s note. They are:

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The National Sexual Assault Hotline

RAINN

Autism Speaks

How many stars will I give Afterward? 5

Why? It was a beautifully written book about what happens after a child is found when kidnapped. Told from two different perspectives (the victim and a family member of the other kidnapped boy), it also tells the tale of two broken people finding each other and helping each other heal.

Would I reread it? Yes

Would I recommend it to family and friends? Yes

Age Range: Teen on up

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