British author Rosamund Lupton’s much-anticipated second psychological thriller has even more potential teen appeal than her first. Lupton is a master at both plotting and characterization, using close family relationships to ratchet up the suspense.
Her debut, Sister, made several “best of” lists last year; our own AB4T review was enthusiastic. The paperback cover (pictured here) is more likely to catch the teen eye than the hardcover image, so if you haven’t added Sister to your collection yet, now’s the time.
In Afterwards, a teenage girl and her mother spend the novel outside their bodies, after being injured in a terrible fire. Unlike Lovely Bones, however, they find ways to take action. For the multitude of teens who love Sebold’s book, this is a good read-alike recommendation.
Library Journal has published a Q&A with the author which I found interesting for its insight into Lupton’s process. She plots “obsessively” before she begins writing. Considering her propensity for twists and turns, it makes sense!
Adult/High School–Grace Covey and her teenaged daughter Jenny are badly injured in an arson fire, and both lie unconscious in the hospital. Despite outside appearances, both are well aware of what’s going on around them and are taking steps to understand what happened. Grace, suffering from a head injury that leaves her in a coma, and Jenny, badly burned, are both able to leave their damaged bodies. They can speak to each other, hear all the conversations going on around them, and can even hitch rides in cars as police and family members inspect the scene and question those involved. As Grace gets new information and Jenny is able to remember more details about the events around the fire, they realize the danger isn’t over. They are the only ones who have all the pieces of the mystery but they can only communicate with each other. In the end, they must make difficult choices in order to protect the ones they love. Afterwards touches on similar themes to Lupton’s Sister (Crown, 2011)–family connections, manipulative relationships, and a twisting search for truth–but the story unwinds and reweaves in a very different way. Teens will find the mystery compelling but will also connect with Jenny’s difficulty in getting Grace to accept that she’s not a child anymore. The book will be enjoyed by fans of suspenseful, character driven thrillers with no shortage of dramatic twists and turns.–Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA