Book Review ~ 'After'

When I walked into Barnes & Nobel that day, all I was looking for was a shiny new novel to add to my shiny summer reading list. I was still finishing up my second year of college, and I had no time to read anything but my math textbooks. But my to-be-read pile was pretty much growing as steadily as my anticipation of diving into it. I was psyched to walk in and choose some titles that would entertain me through vacation.

“After” has the kind of cover that jumps out at you. The bright colors are an arresting sight in a sea of dark paranormal novels on the shelf. The shining pinks and yellows forced me to reach out and grab it. Based on the cover alone, “After” seemed like a perfect summer read; light and romantic, as dainty and sweet as the main character’s name… Lacey. Admittedly, my first thought was “fairy tale.”

After

Never, ever, judge a book by its cover. The least you can do is lift the flap to learn that a pretty, cheerful face can hide a level of deep emotion – loss, guilt, betrayal – I hope you beloved Creareans never have to feel.

Lacey’s world shatters when her dad is killed in a car accident. And secretly? She feels like it’s her fault. If she hadn’t taken her own sweet time getting ready that morning… well, it never would have happened. Her mom wouldn’t be a basket case. Her brother Logan wouldn’t drink. And her little brother would still have two parents.
But life goes on even if you don’t want it to. And when Lacey gets the chance to make a difference in the lives of some people at school, she jumps at it. Making lemonade out of lemons is her specialty. Except she didn’t count on meeting a guy like Sam. Or that sometimes? Lemonade can be a pretty bitter drink to swallow
.”
~Publisher’s description

As you can see from the publisher’s description, Lacey has suffered. And one thing she can’t stand is when someone pretends they “get it.” To her, no one who has not experienced the agony of losing someone they love can understand her pain. So she surrounds herself with people who have lost family members. Starting a club for similar mates at her school, she creates a haven where they can all be themselves and be comfortable in the fact they really do understand each other. When the new kid at school, Sam, joins, Lacey has finally met a boy who she can really start a relationship with. A boy who has loved and lost and understands her on every emotional level. But like the cover of this book, the cover hides secrets. Not everything is as it seems, which Lacey learns the hard way when it comes to her relationship with Sam.
What impressed me most about “After” was how author Kristin Harmel did such an excellent job with her characters. While I felt that some of Lacey’s thoughts were a little small-minded at times (well, maybe once), I never once thought Kristin could have written her more believably. Instead, I saw Lacey as a real human being whose emotions had taken a roller coaster of a ride and who was, understandably, a little less open to other people’s pain. It is definitely a book I’d recommend for this reason alone, and for a hundred other reasons that occurred to me as I read through the pages.

The book: “After.”
The author: Kristin Harmel.
The publisher: Delacorte Press.

Race