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After by Amy Efaw
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After (edition 2009)

by Amy Efaw

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6877413,880 (3.78)31
Member:AddictedToMorphemes
Title:After
Authors:Amy Efaw
Info:Viking Juvenile (2009), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 350 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Read, Read in 2013

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After by Amy Efaw

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» See also 31 mentions

English (73)  German (1)  All languages (74)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
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  aweinel | Jul 14, 2014 |
I don’t really like babies. I never have, really. I’ve had countless jobs in childcare, and I LOVE working with children, but babies are not my thing. When I was little and expressed this sentiment, my family always told me my views would change as I grew up, because this is always the reason I cited for not wanting children of my own. Well, I’m 22, and this view hasn’t changed yet. I still find babies to be. . . creepy. Needy. Basically, you would never want to hire me to be your baby-sitter for a 6 month old. We also know that I’m not the hugest fan of contemporary, and certainly not typically a fan of issue books, so perhaps After was an interesting choice for me to pick up. And yet, something about it compelled me.

I mean, leaving a baby in a trash can. . . it really IS hard to comprehend who could do such a thing. And yet, part of me also says the people who do this–most of them–must not be monsters. They must have reasons, issues, so many things going on in their mind to the point they see discarding a living being as a viable option. It’s fascinating in the saddest sense of the word.

And on that front, After delivers. I found Efaw’s writing to be incredibly strong. It’s clean, without much flourish, but does it ever paint a picture. I felt like I was *THERE* when the story began, in Devon’s living room with her, when everything started to unravel and the horrifying truth was just barely coming to light. It’s been three weeks since I read this book, and I can still remember the opening scene. That is a sign of really vivid writing. Slowly, Efaw delves into Devon’s head to unravel her motives and experiences that led her to place a newborn baby in a dumpster.

This book is moderately paced, and the revelations of Devon’s past come slowly, as she herself remembers things. It becomes clear that Devon’s own accounts of events are fuzzy at best, and while I will say this was frustrating as a reader, it also put me there WITH Devon. I felt her pain, her confusion, more clearly than perhaps I would have liked. Getting into her head was uncomfortable, I’ll admit, but it was also well-done.

That being said, After is not without it’s fault. The main problematic element I see in the book is that so much of After involves setting Devon up as a “good kid”. She’s the nice, hard-working, smart kid who never does anything wrong, which is why it’s so baffling to everyone around her that she ended up in this position. Okay, fine, I can work with that. Maybe there’s some bias there I don’t like, but I understand reality is complex and no one is perfect. What I did have a problem with was in the end, Devon ended up looking pretty perfect from a characterization standpoint while all the other girls were shamed, at least partially.

Because Devon’s the “good kid” and has only has sex once, it sets her up to a be a sympathetic figure, WHILE all the other girls she encounters who have been accused of committing crimes seem to be shamed. I think Efaw worked very hard to combat MANY of the stereotypes and shaming that could accompany a novel of this type, and for the most part she succeeds, but I think in this case it didn’t quite go far enough. She does delve into some of the girl’s motives and makes them more sympathetic, but there’s still a sense that they’re the type of girls who the adults would expect to end up in the position that they did, unlike Devon.

Final Impression: There are a few problematic issues that took away some of this book’s effectiveness for me, but on the whole, I thought it dealt with a really interesting and potentially controversial subject in a way that didn’t glisten over elements but also worked hard to really give the reader insight into Devon’s mind. It’s a hard book to handle at times, and it’s not a book I’ll probably read again, but it’s very well-written and I’d recommend it to readers who like these harder contemporaries. I do wish those problematic issues had been dealt with, because until that came up this was on the road to being a 5 star for me, but it was a little too much in some places to ignore. Still recommend. ( )
  Stormydawnc | Jun 23, 2014 |
I found myself hating the main character, hoping there would be justice, but didn't happen. Throughout, she refers to her baby as "It." The teachers, justice system, etc...are all sympathizers. Her constant references to soccer get annoying. I especially cringed at the part where she recalls squeezing her bloody baby's skull and then letting her bang against the sink faucet. For the duration of the book, she seems lethargic, lost in her own mind, not contributing much. I just wanted to shake her! No remorse from anyone in the book, just more concerned with protecting her.
  SLeeD | Jan 23, 2014 |
Come by my blog, Forever Lost in Books, for MORE reviews, giveaways, interviews and memes!

My Opinion : I have to first say that three hours after reading this book I was still thinking about it. The end was like a big slap on the face. I won't say why, because some people may not want to know it. Here's one thing, I almost wanted to throw the book in my pool because of the ending! Anyways... I LOVED the book. It made me tense. I like Efaw's writing and I learnt a lot of things about law and jail, which I liked. I recommend it to everyone! It teaches not to judge somebody too fast. I loved it!

Character : Devon Sky Davenport would be my favorite character. Let me explain why; she's a goalkeeper like me! She was quite secretive, which didn't help her case. I liked her.


Dom was cool. She changed my view on lawyers.


Great characters! ( )
  ccathee17c | Jun 7, 2013 |
This book had been on my shelf for a few weeks when I realized that I only had three days left to read it before I had to return it to the library. I flipped through the book to see if anything caught my eye, and was struck by the quote on page 155 (see above). My interest was piqued, and I promised myself I would set aside a few hours that night to read at least part of the book and see if I liked it enough to continue.

I needn't have worried about finishing it in time to return it to the library. From the very first chapter I was caught up in Devon's story, and I didn't put the book down until I finished it in the wee hours of the morning (2 a.m.).

After is one of the few books that I have read that is written in the present tense in such a way that it conveys a sense of immediacy - like I was with Devon through all of her troubles. The last book I read that did this successfully was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Normally I wouldn't read this type of story - I find that anything that has to do with children being mistreated is too emotionally intense for me. After, however, is not focused on the baby that was discarded, but instead follows Devon through her initial experiences in the juvenile prison system and the courts. While I think that the author probably only touched the surface of what life is like for young adults in the justice system, she did adequately convey Devon's emotional turmoil.

I like that the focus of the book is on the teenage mother's experience after having tried to rid herself of her baby. I think that most people are so focused on the welfare of the baby in these stories (justifiably so, of course), and that the fate of the mom gets ignored, or remains unknown to the public because of laws about revealing the identity of minors. It was interesting to think about what a postpartum teen would be going through physically and emotionally as she is processed through the justice system. Can you imagine being a postpartum teen, dealing with soreness from labor, milk-engorged breasts, and hormone changes, all while adjusting to life in a detention center? Or what about the guilt over what you had done, and the loss of your child? Or the accusing stares of those around you?

After doesn't justify Devon's actions. There are times in Devon's story where it's hard to tell if she's in denial or if she truly didn't know what was going on. Regardless, the reader knows that she is guilty of dumping her baby in the garbage. Even if she was extremely upset or confused, her actions are never defended.

Although the writing is simplistic at times (nothing too poetic, flowery or overly detailed), it didn't really bother me because the intensity of Devon's emotions and experiences more than make up for it. I thought that the author did a great job of showing how a normal, good kid could end up in such a horrific situation. ( )
  akreese | May 16, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Amy Efawprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Soler, RebeccaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?"
Isaiah 49:15 (NIV translation)
Dedication
To "Baby Nick" and "Baby Vaughn," and to the countles babies who were never found and have no names and to the girls at Remann Hall.
First words
The TV's on, some lame morning show.The reception's lousy, and the sound's off. But Devon isn't really watching, anyway.
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Book description
Fifteen-year-old straight-A student and star athlete Devon Davenport lies on the sofa mindlessly watching morning TV. She is in physical pain, and her only recourse is to mentally disconnect. In complete denial that she is pregnant, Devon leaves her baby in the trash to die, and after the baby is discovered, Devon is accused of attempted murder.
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In complete denial that she is pregnant, straight-A student and star athlete Devon Davenport leaves her baby in the trash to die, and after the baby is discovered, Devon is accused of attempted murder.

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