I read this one because my eighteen year old brought it home from the library and read it, then recommended it to Brown Bear Daughter, who is almost fifteen. Then I found out it was about a girl who abandons the unexpected baby to whom she gives birth in the beginning of the novel. Then I saw that it was recently published (2009) and I looked to see if it was a Young Adult Cybils nominee. It is.
So I had to read it, even though I’m supposed to be reading about fifty more Middle Grade Cybils nominees. My final verdict as far as Brown Bear Daughter is concerned is a qualified “yes.” The story is intense. Devon, a straight-A, straight-arrow, responsible, star soccer player, is the last girl anyone would expect to become pregnant, hide the pregnancy from everyone, even herself, and then abandon the baby after its birth in a trash can. But she does. And After is the story of what happens to Devon, well, after that disastrous decision is discovered.
I’m not sure if Brown Bear Daughter will read the book or not. She’s very busy. If she does, I would want to talk to her about what she read and what she thought about Devon and her self-deception, and the perfectionism that leads her into making such bad choices. The book is well written, and the subject matter is something teens would be likely to see on the news or in a Law and Order-type TV episode. However, I find reading about a character’s inner feelings and thoughts a more intimate and disturbing experience than watching the same story on TV. Devon got under my skin, and I wanted so much to be able to share with her the grace of God and freedom from the legalistic code she imposed on herself, a code that wouldn’t even let her admit to herself that she had made a mistake and that the people around her might extend forgiveness instead of condemnation if they knew.