Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: After

An infant left in the trash to die. A teenage mother who never knew she was pregnant . . .

Before That Morning, these were the words most often used to describe straight-A student and star soccer player Devon Davenport: responsible, hardworking, mature. But all that changes when the police find Devon home sick from school as they investigate the case of an abandoned baby. Soon the connection is made - Devon has just given birth; the baby in the trash is hers. After That Morning, there's only one way to define Devon: attempted murderer.

And yet gifted author Amy Efaw does the impossible - she turns Devon into an empathetic character, a girl who was in such deep denial that she refused to believe she was pregnant. Through airtight writing and fast-paced, gripping storytelling, Ms. Efaw takes the reader on Devon's unforgettable journey toward clarity, acceptance, and redemption.

  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile
  • Release date: Aug. 11, 2009
  • Page count: 350
  • Unique elements: Look into the juvenile delinquent system (based on research thorough) 
  • Would appeal to: Soccer enthusiasts, readers looking for serious topic, perfectionists
Favorite Quotes:

"The water ebbs and flows softly against the shore like a whisper, its frothy white foam a delicate lace."

"It's one of those uncomfortable moments when two people are walking together, but not touching...The tension is there, the fluttering is there, the wanting to initiate something is there, but the fear of making the wrong move holds them back and to themselves."

"Devon drops her head back then, looks up at the ceiling, at the pattern its cracks make. Crisscrossed, like lines in a palm. The lines that hold a person's destiny."

"Dom stands, moves toward Devon, sits on the floor beside her. All very slow and cautious, like approaching a bird with a broken wing."

This is one of those books I picked up, read the first chapter, then put it down again. I may not have been in the mood to delve into such a serious topic my first attempt. The point of view was a little off putting at first: 3rd person present tense. I've never read anything written that way. Some of the writing style is a little more choppy than I'm used to, but it makes for faster reading and more in-the-moment action.

I admire an author who does her research, and Amy Efaw spent seven years doing just that in the creation of this book. She visited a juvenile detention facility and made her own observations, as well as interviewed lawyers and doctors. In the Author's Note, you discover she named characters after real people who helped her. Also, her husband has been a lawyer and a military judge and was great for legal advice.

I haven't read a book before with this concept. You always hear in the news about dumpster babies or prom moms who try to get rid of the baby. We don't think about the psychology behind that-- why they did what they did, whether they were even fully present after giving birth. As I was reading, I kept trying to figure out why Devon (main character) would repress her memories. Sometimes, she didn't have a choice.

The relationship between Devon and her lawyer Dom is well built. I expected to see more going on in the juvenile facility as far as interaction with the other girls, but with daily visits from a lawyer and an upcoming trial, it makes sense that a girl's attentions would be divided between quiet time in her cell, lawyer conferences, and classes in the facility.

The relationship between Devon and her mom is crazy but well described. It's a mother-daughter reversal in duties type relationship.

The trial in the book is a judge only trial and it's to determine whether she should be tried in the juvenile or adult system.

In Devon's flashbacks, there are points of brilliant description as far as the outside sky and surroundings. I also like the fact that poetry is woven in the story twice.

Devon refers to her child as IT through the whole thing. I was surprised that during the court hearing when she found out the sex of the baby, she didn't acknowledge it at all, since she briefly wondered about it in her cell.

Devon is an amazing soccer goalie, so anyone who understands soccer will appreciate the analogies between court and the high pressure penalty kicks or championship games.

The ending has a little twist that I didn't expect.

Read this only if you're in the mood for a serious topic.

No comments: