Monday, February 15, 2010
Review: After by Kristin Harmel
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Nearly a year after the car accident that killed her father, Lacey Mann still can’t help feeling guilty for his death. If only she had not taken so long getting ready that morning. If only she had yelled out when she saw the car approaching. But now her father is gone, and her family has spun off in different directions, and try as hard as she can to be the good daughter and keep everything working, there’s still a huge part of her that is still not healed.
When the new guy, Sam, begins to show an interest in her, Lacey doesn’t know how to react. She’s tired of being pitied, tired of always being thought of as the girl with the dead father. But then Lacey starts a group at school for students with dead parents, and slowly she learns how love changes and can fit into her new life without forgetting the past.
AFTER is a gentle and sweet read about death and love. The book doesn’t cover any new ground, but it makes for a quick, pleasant read.
The characters’ dilemmas regarding, grief, friendship, family, and love are realistically complex. Grief affects people differently, and in AFTER we get to see many different facets of it: Lacey’s younger brother’s silent withdrawal, her older brother diving into a relationship that she can’t understand, her mother flinging herself into work and neglecting the rest of the family. The different situations, breakdowns, and verbal showdowns that Kristin Harmel portrays in this story are rendered accurately and sensitively.
However, many of the characters’ interactions with one another still felt rather forced to me. While I appreciated and could even understand Lacey’s uncertain feelings toward Sam, it is not well explained why Sam had such a persistent interest in her. And, unfortunately, there really was nothing new in this book: there are already a number of YA books on grief out there.
AFTER is a quick but ultimately forgettable read that may perhaps best be enjoyed by readers who either understand what Lacey is going through or are looking for an easy and quick read.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - I like the font, and the color scheme, but I'm not quite sure what it has to do with the story. It's pretty, of course.
Delacorte / Feb. 9, 2010 / Hardcover / 240pp. / $16.99
Sent for review by Random House.