Monday, March 07, 2011

Review: After

After by Amy Efaw
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

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 rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book as a whole. The plot alone could have kept me reading – the idea was great, and the plot was shocking enough to just be fascinating. The writing was great as well; I enjoyed Amy Efaw’s style from the beginning on.

The execution was problematic for me, though. The dialogue seemed fake and stilted most of the time, and especially the way Devon’s lawyer and the judge spoke didn’t seem realistic to me. I don’t know much about how people speak in the courtroom, but it seemed as if the judge was amused by the whole case, which I thought was strange. Devon’s lawyer concentrated so much more on feelings than on facts and seemed more like a psychologist than a lawyer times, which I also didn’t think was realistic.

I did not get the mom’s character at all. It seemed like the author was trying to fit two stereotypes of bad mothers into one person – at times, she was the slutty, over-worked, teen-parent mom who doesn’t care about her daughter at all, and at times she was the mom pushing her daughter to become the superstar she never managed to be – and that combination just didn’t work for me.

This book is about what happens “after”, but I still would have liked some more information about how Devon managed to hide her pregnancy from herself and everyone else. I understand how that worked in the beginning – missing her period because of “irregular caloric intake”, blaming herself for the weight gain, etc. – but later on, I just don’t know how that’s supposed to work – you can’t just not notice a baby bump when you’re nine months pregnant, as far as I know, but then again, I’m no expert.

I’m split on my perception of Devon. At points, I felt myself sympathize with her and even, to some extent, understand her decisions, but at others, she was just annoying, for example when she screams at her lawyer, the psychologist, etc., when she’s the one who’s guilty. But even that I could relate to Devon at some points seems like a great accomplishment on the author’s part, as it must have been hard to make a character who’s done such a terrible thing sympathetic for readers.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of Devon’s life in the juvenile detention center and her relationship with the other girls there, which were really realistic, as far as I can tell. I loved getting glimpses of the lives’ of those other girls, especially Karma.

The decision at the ending was a great idea and fit the rest of the story well, in my opinion, but could have used some more explanation.

Even though my review sounds so negative, I do recommend this book – the gripping topic is enough to make you want to read it, and the writing is great as well, even though I had my problems with the dialogue, some of the characters, and lack of explanation at points of the novel.


  1. Sounds interesting. I'll look out for it!

  2. I listened to this as an audiobook. I had many of the same thoughts as you. At times I found myself sympathizing with Devon and at times I wanted to shake her! I didn't get the feeling that the judge was amused. The narrator did a good job with the reading so that might be why. Like you I liked the book as a whole but had issues with some of the execution. Well written review :)

  3. Good honest review.

    I would be interested in having you review one of my books-- In Search of a Soul. Dannie C Hill

  4. Hello! I have also read this book and would give it the same rating. I would also like more information on how she kept the pregnancy a secret and how she got rid of it. I found the court room parts almost boring.

  5. I wish I could write reviews like yours. Maybe I could just get you to write mine since so far I've found 2 that we totally agree on! Great review!

  6. I read this a few years ago. It was a good book, but also a little weird. I get what you mean when you said how did she not know she was pregnant. I'm always confused by that.
    Great honest review though :)


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