Thursday, January 14, 2010

After by Amy Efaw

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.

Okay, first let me say that I realize this is a strange reading choice for a woman 67 months pregnant, not to mention a foster parent who has seen her share of "dumpster babies". But I loved it!

I am not alone in those who loved it, but there seem to be an equal number of folks who hated it. I don't usually read other people's reviews until after I write my own, but I was curious. Looking at sites like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, readers seem to be giving it either one star or five. Part of that, I'm sure, is a reaction to the heinousness of the act, and the natural urge to want to hate the perpetrator. When that perpetrator is the heroine of the story, your mind is automatically going to object!

Having said that, I did not find it at all hard to sympathise with Devon. Maybe it's the way the book starts off, with her huddled on her sofa, just hours after the birth, almost completely disconnected from reality. Have you ever been there? Not for the same reason, hopefully, but just at that point where things are too much and you want to just shut your mind off and leave reality for a decade or two? Then you can start off in the same place as Devon and see, as she and her lawyer start to see, just how unthinkable things can happen every day.

I also have to say I LOVED the ending. It was exactly right, and I did not know how it was going to turn out until the last page, which was very refreshing. I did want to know very much what is happening with the baby, but it would have been 'wrong' to include that in the book, and unrealistic to expect Devon to go from complete disconnect to sudden warm, maternal feelings. An excellent novel, definitely for the mature reader, but highly recommended for such.

And, to read a very recent article about teens in the adult prison system, click here


  1. Lovely review. I need to read this one, right after I finish judging the CYBILS YA finalists. Great to meet a fellow YS librarian! Using turtles as your writers is a totally darling idea.

  2. Oh this sounds like a book I read by Jodi Picoult called The Plain Truth.