After

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Astonishing Aftermath
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by deltay

With After, Amy Efaw has created an insightful glimpse into a very real, very tragic event that's repeating itself among today's youth. The media reports incidents of babies abandoned (e.g. in dumpsters or otherwise), and the consequences for the perpetrators, but what about the inciting factors that led this event to take place? What about the motivations that drove these young people to such desperation? This is a difficult subject to deal with, but Efaw does it deftly and insightfully in After.

On the cover, the real Devon and the Devon in the reflection may seem identical; upon closer inspection, the one in the reflection is pregnant. Subtle. And that's what many aspects of After are - subtle. In order to provoke maximum independent, unbiased thought, the story, the characters - everything has to walk a fine line and strike just the right amount of neutrality. In this case, Efaw was successful in generating contemplation.

The tense of this book - present tense, third person - was another subtle touch that got me thinking. This is Devon's story; first person would have provided more intimacy, as there's always an element of removal with third. But then I realized - is this what Efaw wants? A sense of removal from Devon, so that readers can decide for themselves whether "Devon deserve[s] that punishment? Your answer depends on whether you believe her story" (Synopsis). Even so, little details and small quirks endear the audience to Devon regardless. If I had the chance though, I would definitely want to ask Efaw about her choice on tense/perspective.

Characterization of Devon - I would imagine - was a tricky thing to handle. Even intimacy had to be generated to allow the audience to relate to Devon, but enough removal was needed to neutrally judge the situation. For a fair bit of the story, Devon seems a little out of it. But again - is this part of what's needed to complete the story, to create pathos? If so, another brilliant but subtle touch. Characterization in general, especially of the supporting cast, was handled masterfully though. Carefully placed details and quirks added a further realm of depth to the characters. Sure, they weren't always likeable (didn't particularly care for her mother) but more importantly, they were real. And they were credible. It was nice to see Dom outside of the lawyer context. It was interesting to get a first impression of Karma, only to have that change once more was revealed about her past, about her motivations.


"A wise saying from my good friend Anonymous" (Efaw 172).

The various little sayings by "Anonymous" which Karma referred to throughout were an excellent touch. A very unique character quirk. In fact, all the girls at the retention centre, the legal proceedings... these offered a glimpse into a world that we don't typically experience. It offered a breath of fresh air from the shallow guilty pleasures of "literature" that are a common indulgence nowadays. Efaw offers something a little more gritty, a little more raw - but also a little more real - with After. It definitely lends itself to controversial contemplation.

Something about Efaw's writing and diction choices as well - it flows unobtrusively, so as to not get in the way of telling the story. This serves well to augment the severity of the situation, of letting the events here penetrate. The format works excellently in this context. It jumps right into the situation, of Devon being discovered as recently having given birth. And slowly, slowly, the story unravels, the past is revealed, and we find out what happened beforehand with Devon as she begins to remember it herself. Readers aren't some removed party in this sense, sitting back to watch the drama unfurl, knowing either more or less than the main character - nope, here the reader embarks on this journey with Devon together. The flashbacks and present events coincide beautifully.

The subject matter here is definitely hard to take in, hard to digest. But at the same time, this is based on events that are happening for real. Which is why it's important to realize that. In that sense, After is a trailblazer, leading the way in terms of literature regarding dumpster babies in North America. The plot here is something new, something different. It shows the motivations (or perhaps lack thereof) and events leading up to why someone would abandon their baby like that. Oftentimes, we get lost in the post-discovery horror of shocking events; here Efaw offers a glimpse into the psychological aspect of pre-committing the act. The ending - well, I wasn't particularly fond of the way it concluded, but in this case it didn't necessarily affect the overall impact of the story too severely.

Efaw's After is a striking, thought-provoking piece of literature that could well open the eyes of many. I won't subconciously influence you here as to whether or not I'm in agreement with Devon's story. But this is definitely one you should check out - after all, there's only one way to find out whether you think Devon deserved her punishment. Whether you believe Devon's story. Was it all justified?

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Paranoia
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Grace

This story shows what can happen at any school after a nearby school shooting. Tom, who goes to Central High, doesn't understand why his school has suddenly become so opressive when the shooting happened at a school fifty miles away. But, the school tightens its security to the point where the students aren't allowed to express their individuality or even read The Catcher in the Rye. Tom and his friends must find out what is happening at their school before it's too late.

I liked this story because it warns people about what happens if they are protected to the point that all of their freedoms are taken away. It was scary the way that the students and teachers just disappeared, and reminded me of a totalitarian soceity. This is an interesting read for anyone.
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One you have to read
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4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Erin

This book will make you see what goes on after a school shooting.Durning a school day there was a shooting taken place in a high school near the main character school. That school gets a wake up call and see that if it can happen to that school it can happen to ours. The princable retires and a new guy takes his place. He turns the school into a scary place to go. Nothing there is keep a secert, and if the princable finds out you disapper. It is a good easy read.
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School Gone Wild
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4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Ams

The book After written by Francine Prose is about a young boy named Tom who is going to Central High School. When three students bring guns and start shooting and killing a few students at Pleasent Valley High School, less than 50 miles away, Dr. WIlner is hired to help the students as a grief and crisis counsler. As the story progresses, Tom and his friends realize he is truley hurting the students at Central more than healing them. THe thing I liked about this book was the wide variety in character traits.
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What Happened?
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4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by caroline E tracey

After, by Francine Prose, starts out with a very tragic although very real incident. A school shooting occurs 50 miles away from the main character, Tom's, school. Right away things change. First there are new, strict rules, but then people start getting sent away.

This book starts off wonderfully. It keeps making you think about lots of possibilities of the reasons for all of the strangeness. And, although it is worth reading just for the beginning, it loses some steam. By the end, you begin to think, "Well, what really happened?" and "Where's the resolution?" and "Where's the epilogue?" Aside from that, it's a good, very interesting read, and I highly recommend it.
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A Terrifing Recallection of the Aftermath of a School Shooting
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Diana

After deals with what happens to a school after a school shooting occurs at a school 50 miles away. After the shooting everyone becomes aware that terrible things can happen. Thinking it would help to prevent an incident of the same nature from occuring at their school, the principle hires a grief counsiler to help the students sort out their feelings. Soon the grief counsiler begans to take over the school banning everything from The Catcher in the Rye to the color red. Students began to break the rules, but as soon as they cross the line they are sent to boot camp where they are helped to reform, the only problem is they never come back again. Its up to the kids to find out what it will take to break the grief counsilers control over the school and save the students.
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