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After by Kristin Harmel
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3.5***

Lacey’s father is killed in an auto accident, leaving her mother and two brothers obviously consumed by grief. Lacey, although she blames herself for the accident, is fine … or so she keeps telling everyone. She is doing well in school, has taken up the household tasks her mother cannot seem to accomplish, and is watching out for her younger brother Tanner, who has virtually withdrawn from life. The kids at school have mostly stopped giving her pitying looks, and even though she’d like for things to return to “before” she recognizes that she must deal with “after.” One thing that helps is a club she starts for other classmates who have lost a parent – a place where they can feel “normal” and know that expressions of “I know how you feel” are genuine and not just a rote response. And the attentions of a new boy in school, handsome and popular, definitely help.

This is a good YA novel that deals with some very real issues. Lacey, her brothers and mother each deal with their grief in different ways – ignoring it, keeping busy with work or school, withdrawing from friends and family, turning to alcohol. Those around them are sometimes puzzled by the reactions to their offers of help and support. Harmel shows how the loss of a parent affects not only the surviving family members, but also those around them – colleagues, teachers, friends, and neighbors. What does a friend do in this kind of situation? Do you reminisce with Lacey about her Dad? Do you pretend everything is fine? Do you avoid mentioning your own family? Do you try to have fun like a “normal” teen? Do you stick by your friend or find new friends who don’t shut you out?

This is a sensitively written story of one family’s journey back to “normal” after suffering a devastating loss. The characters are fully realized, and the situations believable. Definitely recommended for teen readers.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
A very quick read, as I read 90 percent of it in one night. Sam's story left me floored and the event at the end had me anxious as I knew I only had a few pages left and the story didnt seem like it was wrapping up. But it was a nice ending.

I really felt for Lacey playing the "what if" game. ( )
  snaprebelx | Oct 4, 2011 |
A sweetly told story of a teenaged girl’s struggle to survive the unexpected death of her father, After, was a quick subtle read.

There was a fair share of angst, as one would expect from a story based on the loss of a parent, but it wasn’t of the hang-wringing, over wrought into hysterical depression variety. It was understated and for a book of short length paced very well. Surprisingly, Harmel was able to deep dive into the subject matter with ease and tremendous focus despite the book’s brevity. Kudos to her skill as a writer.

To do so she created a unique plotline with the invention of Lacey’s community service type endevor. I don’t want to spoil what that endeavor was here, but it seemed to me to be a productive and healthy way to work through the emotion and loss she was feeling. A further advantage was the addition of a cadre of support characters. None of which felt unecessary or took on too much focus.

That is, except Sam. As the object of Lacey’s affection the new boy in town was a kindred spirit directly upon his arrival in her life. Bonding with Lacey over a shared sense of loss the two became fast friends that blossomed into more. But wait, there may be a bit more to it than the typical boy meets girl, boy and girl fall for each other, and boy and girl live happily every after. Again, I’m not going to spoil the finer and most intriguing points of the story, but I will say that as the relationship develops and you get invested in it, there is a pretty powerful punch waiting along the way. It was good too!

I’ve made not qualms about being a fan of Kristin Harmel’s. I’ve read all but one of her books and loved each. After is no exception, it is a fantastic read and one that may help a child who has lost a parent deal with the aftermath in a positive and constructive way. ( )
  galleysmith | Sep 4, 2010 |
This was a decent read but felt more like a self-help book than an engaging story. ( )
  noahsmae | Aug 14, 2010 |
Reviewed by Angela S. for TeensReadToo.com

Sixteen-year-old Lacey had her life turned upside down one Saturday morning, when a routine trip for breakfast with her dad and two brothers turned tragic. Just minutes from their house, Lacey's father was killed and Lacey was seriously hurt in a car accident that no one could have predicted.

Lacey has spent the last year of her life blaming herself and trying to hold her family together. She tells herself that if only she hadn't taken as long getting ready or didn't spend time deliberately teasing her brothers, then maybe her father would be alive today.

When a new boy named Sam arrives at school, the last thing Lacey wants is for him to tell her he understands. No one really knows unless they've lost a parent. So how can this new boy act like he understands her when she knows he doesn't?

Despite what she's telling herself, Lacey really likes Sam and wants to give him the benefit of the doubt. But juggling her own grief and a relationship is a lot harder than she thought. Especially when she's asked to comfort fellow student Kelsi, who just lost her mom.

Then one day, Lacey comes up with the idea to start a club for all of the other kids in school who have lost a parent. They don't need to discuss death; all they need to do is get together and have some fun. Lacey wants to create a place where they don't feel so different from everyone else. A place where everyone actually does understand what it's like to lose a parent.

As the club grows and Lacey falls for Sam, will she be able to put her father's death behind her and trust that the future will be okay?

A heart-wrenching story full of wonderfully crafted characters, AFTER is a book that readers will enjoy until the very last page. ( )
  GeniusJen | May 17, 2010 |
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To my friend Kate Atwood, Carleigh Pearson, Cole Pearson, Luke Pearon, and everyone else who has lost a parent too soon. And as always, to Carol Harmel. I couldn't have asked for a better mother. I love you!!
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The day my whole world changed started like any other Saturday.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038573476X, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When her father is killed in a car accident, Lacey feels responsible, so when she is given a chance to make a difference in the lives of some of her fellow students, she jumps at the chance.

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