book review · NetGalley

Book Review: Afterwards by Jennifer Mathieu

Its 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 Afterwards. Now, onto my review.

Format reading in: Kindle, as an ARC

Date of publication: Will be published September 20th 2016

Sites where book can be found: Amazon in both Kindle and hardcover for preorder only

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 eleven-year-old Dylan Anderson is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of fifteen-year-old Ethan Jorgensen, who had gone on a bike ride four years earlier and had never been seen again. Dylan’s older sister, Caroline, can’t help but wonder what happened to her brother, who has nonverbal autism and is not adjusting well to life back home. There’s only one person who knows the truth: Ethan. But Ethan isn’t sure how he can help Caroline when he is fighting traumatic memories of his own captivity. One thing is clear, however. Both Caroline and Ethan need a friend–and their best option just might be each other. (Goodreads)

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 and 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 very, very hard book to read but you can’t help but be drawn into it and I felt that the author did a great job all around with the whole story.
  3. The ending. Let’s just 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 Afterwards:

  1. Caroline’s parents. OMG, I couldn’t stand reading about them whenever they came up. They indirectly blamed her for Dylan’s disappearance, don’t notice that she is hurting and taking it out by doing self-destructive things and, here’s the big rub, they don’t get the help for Dylan that he needs after he is returned. W.T.F. Now, I get it, I really do, that maybe 75% of parents out there are like this and I get that the author probably 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 too because as a person with moderate anxiety, I can tell you that what the author wrote was true. I actually had to do breathing exercises because his attacks were starting to trigger mine (see, told you that the book got to you)
  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. Select phrases “the squeak of bedsprings” and the kidnappers rough hands were alluded to. 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


Autism Speaks

How many stars will I give Afterward? 5

Why? It was 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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