Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Afterward
by Jennifer Mathieu

Published on September 20, 2016
by Roaring Brook Press

Source: ARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other.
My take:  This was the first book I've read by Jennifer Mathieu but it will not be my last! Afterward was subtle and deeply moving! This is the second book I've read this month about kids who were kidnapped and then returned home (the other was The Lost and the Found.) Similar premises, but completely different stories -- and I enjoyed them both.

While The Lost and the Found was more of a suspense story, Afterward was about two families recovering from an unimaginable trauma: each had a son who was abducted, then returned to his family. The story is told in two POVs: that of Ethan, the first kidnapping victim, and also Caroline, whose autistic younger brother was later taken by the same kidnapper.

There were many things to appreciate about this book. Ethan's POV was so very moving -- he started out fragile and broken but after time and a lot of therapy, gained so much perspective and confidence. His therapy sessions were fascinating and heartbreaking (his therapist reminded me of Dr. Berger in Ordinary People). Caroline has her own challenges. She was supposed to have been watching her brother when he was kidnapped, and harbors a lot of guilt and self-blame about what happened. While Ethan's family is upper-middle class, Caroline's family is struggling both financially and emotionally. Neither she nor her brother has the luxury of therapists or a lot of familial support.

Caroline and Ethan develop an uneasy bond that develops into a friendship that helps them both process and recover from what happened to them.

Highly recommend this to readers who like stories with a lot of subtlety and psychological depth!

14 comments:

  1. I'm SO excited to read this and glad to hear it's good!! I totally recommend The Truth About Alice. It's fab!!

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    1. I'm requesting it at the library right now :)

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  2. I have this on my audible wish list. I am glad you liked it. It sounds very interesting. Kidnapping stories are always hard for me to read because I have kids, but they are always so interesting.

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    1. I agree about that! Maybe because this one started with the kids being returned, I was okay with it. But still, what these families would have suffered is unimaginable. The parents are a big part of the story, which I love.

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  3. This is the first time I heard about this book, but I'll def be looking forward to it. I've enjoyed some books about kidnapping this year and this one sounds really good.

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    1. Yeah, it's weird how these themes pop up. Maybe because of the success of Room??

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  4. I think this is the third or so book that deals with kidnapping that I've heard about, so it seems to be a trend. I'll definitely have to read this one, when I can handle it. Great review!

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    1. It does! I could handle it, and I'm very wary of books about kids being kidnapped...

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  5. I've been seeing great reviews for this one, yours included, and I'm so tempted to read it, but I'm scared of it! I just know it will crush me and it's such a sensitive subject. I'll read it. I just hope I'll survive.

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  6. It's funny because it seems like there are a lot of books based on this idea of the kidnapping and the return, but I've never read a book like it before? I'll have to try this one because it sounds so well done and moving!

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  7. It does sound like a nice read. I can't even imagine someone going through what Caroline does, with the guilt- sounds like a very moving read. I just saw this one the other day and the cover caught my eye, so it's nice to see a review of it!

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  8. I'm so happy to see your review, Jen. I was intrigued by this one as soon as it came on my radar. I have it on hold at the library now and should have it soon. I'm even more excited for it after reading your review. It looks like one I'll really enjoy.

    Tanya @ GIRL PLUS BOOKS

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  9. I've read both of the author's previous books, and she's definitely on my auto-buy list. She deals so well with emotional nuance and difficult topics. This one sounds so intriguing, and I can't wait to get stuck into it! Lovely review, Jen.

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  10. Gosh, this definitely sounds like a really heartbreaking book filled with family tragedies. Thank you for sharing Jen!

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