Thursday, July 29, 2010

After Ever After, by Jordan Sonnenblick, reviewed by Miss Ami

Wow. He did it again.

When I finished reading Sonnenblick's first book, "Drums, Girls and Dengerous Pie" (and after I had finished crying), I read over his bio to find out what personal experience he was writing from. I still can't believe that the answer was, basically, none. I mean, he got it. Every little bit of what the family of a child with cancer goes through, down to the exact words the doctors use in some places! And yes, I am speaking from experience, but I don't know that I could have portrayed things so well. Amazing book!

So then we get "After Ever After", the sequel. One of those sequels you can't wait to read, because you want to know what happened next, but you are dreading it at the same time - can Sonnenblick possibly pull it off a second time? Can he suck us in from the first page, make every character real, stay away from stereotypes but still hit on the feelings and experiences of cancer survivors worldwide? In short, does he still get it?

As you can gather from my first sentence, the answer is a resounding "YES"! Little brother Jeff is now in 8th grade, cancer-free but not without some lasting effects. Treatment has affected his gait and his learning abilities. More important to an adolescent, his bout with cancer has affected the way people see him. As he tells us on the very first page, "There isn't a kid in the grade who hasn't eaten spaghetti at the church hall's annual Alper Family 'Fun-Raiser' Dinner, or gotten dragged to a high school jazz concert in my honor, or - God help me - bought a Save Jeffrey T-shirt." Kind of hard to develop your own identity when people are constantly mentally adding the moniker "The-Kid-Who-Had-Cancer" to the end of your name.

This is not a depressing read, though. As I told my teenage daughter, this is the funniest book about a kid with cancer (see, I'm doing it too) that I have ever read. Some people push books to their kids by giving them a plot synopsis, or by telling them how much they will identify with the main character. Blah. I prefer the drive-them-crazy approach;

Me: This is the funniest book about a kid with cancer I have ever read! Oh my gosh, and the part with the testing! I mean, you knew they were planning something, but that was so cool! But you had better not EVER try to pull something like that.

Her: Why? What did they do?

Me: Oh, and then when the teacher tried to stop them? And Tad? Ohmigosh! I could have cried! I think I did cry.

Her: What???? What did he do??? Wait, who's Tad?

Me: And that girl who hates him! So sweet!

Her: Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad! Make her stop!!!

Bet she'll read it:) And you should too! You do not need to have read the first book, as this one stands on its own, but we definitely recommend reading both. We give it a:

6 out of 5. Because we can.


  1. I love these two books...both so funny and so sad (sniff!).

  2. I loved these books and your review. Let me add one, "Oh, the bike ride just did me in!" and, ooh, the play list?

    brenda (proseandkahn)

  3. Yup- I LOVED LOVED this book. When I got it as an ARC, I didn't even realize that there was a previous book, so I read it first and only THEN found out about Drums, which I quickly got from the library and devoured. Sonnenblick's voice is so freaking authentic, it's amazing.

  4. Sonnenblick is my hero. Not only is he an amzing writer, but he stopped teaching in part because he could not agree with all of the testing. I hope he has an incredibly successful career. You are spot on... 6 out of 5!

  5. I did not know that about Sonnenblick! I was very fortunate to get into a librarian job after many years of teaching - many frustrated teachers only stay because they are not, on paper, qualified for any other job (we all know they are more than qualified in real world experience). They get into teaching for all the right reasons, and aren't allowed to follow up on any of them. That's not good for them or the students.

    (Miss Ami climbing off soap box before she gets carried away)

  6. I loved this book and definitely shed a few tears over it. I wish Jordan Sonnenblick churned them out all the time, his books are so good!

  7. I read Drum, a couple months ago and I am going to the library to get After Ever After right now thanks to your review.