Every Moment After
Surviving was just the beginning.
Eleven years after a shooting rocked the small town of East Ridge, New Jersey and left eighteen first graders in their classroom dead, survivors and recent high school graduates Matt Simpson and Cole Hewitt are still navigating their guilt and trying to move beyond the shadow of their town's grief. Will Cole and Matt ever be able to truly leave the ghosts of East Ridge behind? Do they even want to?
As they grapple with changing relationships, falling in love, and growing apart, these two friends must face the question of how to move on—and truly begin living.
Cole and Matt are best friends, and they're navigating their summer before starting college as best they can--though both are struggling for different reasons. EVERY MOMENT AFTER is told from the perspective of both boys through alternating chapters, and it blends some of the more typical eighteen-year-old troubles with the trauma that obviously will come from being part of a tragic event.
EVERY MOMENT AFTER is an examination of grief and friendship, and it expands the narrative beyond the two boys at the center of the book. The whole town has been impacted by the shooting, of course, and although Cole and Matt's stories drive the plot, their interactions with others shine a light on the ripples caused by the shooting. I appreciated that the actual shooting was never described in any sort of detail. Although this book was very much about the event, the treatment of it allowed for the focus to stay firmly on the future impact--what happens after the cameras turn away and much of the world has found something new on which to fixate.
Although the author's views on gun control are evident, they're not presented in a heavy-handed way, and they blend well with the story. The ending of the book felt rushed and somewhat incomplete, and Matt and Cole are exasperating at times--but they're eighteen-year-old boys, so that's to be expected. But overall, reading and discussing EVERY MOMENT AFTER seems a good way to explore tragedy and grief in a safe way, and although it's unfortunate that books like this feel so necessary, I'm glad there's one out there that can help facilitate necessary conversations on gun violence.
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.