Review: After by Amy Efaw

After by Amy Efaw
Amy Efaw's website here.

Publisher: Viking Juvenile; 1 edition (August 11, 2009)
Hardcover: 350 pages
Buy: {amazon}, {b&n}, {book despository}
Summary: from {goodreads}
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.


My Thoughts: After is a heart-wrenching tale about fifteen year-old Devon, straight-A student and headed straight for court. Why? For throwing "IT," her baby, into the trash can. She claims that she never knew, not once during her pregnancy, that she was pregnant. Whether her story is true is up for you to decide...

I had a extremely hard time rating After. It was so different and the idea so unique that it made it hard for me to see past those aspects and look at the characters. On one hand, I couldn't put this book down. On the other hand, I still don't really know what to make of the book. In the end, I give .5 creativity points and 2-stars for: 1) premise, 2) character, 3) the ending.

Premise: I definitely give props to Amy Efaw for attempting to tackle such a controversial and deep issue - the relationship between a mother and her baby. While it was an interesting and original idea, I really had trouble believing that Devon wouldn't notice her baby for 8 months. Amy Efaw did a solid job explaining why the denial was possible, but I still read the entire book feeling skeptical and questioning Devon's character, wondering what kind of girl she really was to miss the evidence of her developing baby. Though Devon's story was pretty plausible in the beginning, it was difficult for me to continue to believe her in the last couple months. You can avoid as many mirrors as you want, wear baggy clothes 24/7, give yourself excuses upon excuses, but when you're lying in bed and roll over... "What's that? A watermelon snuck into my bed?"

Character: Another problem was that I felt like a spectator instead of being actually involved in the story. I liked hearing Devon's story, but I couldn't bring myself to actually care what she would ultimately be accused of. Even at the end, I still didn't fully comprehend Devon's reasons for hiding her baby, and though I could see where her defiance and independence originated from, I got annoyed at her constant denial and refusals for help. However, I liked how she learned and devloped as the story progressed.

The Ending: I can't ruin anything, but I really wish I could at times like these. Technically, the ending was pretty good; it had closure and Devon had an important epiphany. Emotionally, I'm undecided on whether I liked the ending or not. I felt that I didn't really have the time to absorb all the intense action that happened in the last 100 pages, when the hearing took place. While the first 250 pages were a bit redundant, the last 100 pages flew. And those 100 pages were probably what redeemed this book for me.

Romance: Only reflections on Devon's past. Devon only occasionally and briefly remembers the baby's father.
Cover: 3.5 - Simple and clean. I didn't notice it at first, but I like how the reflection of Devon is pregnant while the real girl is not.
Writing: 3.5
Characters: 2.5
Plot: 3.0 

Bottom Line: After was a riveting read. I have to admit that I was dissatisfied with some aspects, but I still could not put it down until I knew what would happen to Devon, which definitely speaks for After's unique premise. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reads concerning psychology and serious, realistic issues. Though After wasn't one of my top reads, I'll definitely keep an eye out for Amy Efaw in the future to see if she pulls out any other interesting plot lines.

**Side-note: DEFINITELY PG-13. Do not go giving this book to your 8-year old anytime soon.