After (by Amy Efaw)

9 10 2013

afterAmy Efaw’s After doesn’t know what it wants to be: psychological character study or courtroom drama. As it turns out, it is neither!

Devon is 15, good student, great soccer player, but one night she gives birth to a baby, which she dumps in the garbage. Now she has to deal with what she did.

However, for a reader to adequately get what is going on in the mind of the main character, you need to get the right perspective. And it’s exactly the point of view that Efaw uses in this novel that is completely wrong. Instead of using the 3rd person POV, to be truly invested in the main character Devon and her state of mind, we should have gotten a 1st person point of view. The sense of immediacy and urgency would have been greatly enhanced. Efaw would have been able to focus more on the mother-daughter relationship and explore that in a much more subtle way; or even show us Devon’s withdrawal from everyone in her life during her pregnancy; or she could have really gotten into the interaction between the girls at the detention center (how cardboard was this done??) . But now, I could care less about Devon… and I didn’t ‘see’ the denial,  which is oh so important to the whole “case”.

This brings us to the other part of the plot of this book: the courtroom stuff. A judge has to decide whether Devon will be tried as an adult (because of the severity of the crimes committed), or whether she will remain in the juvenile justice system. At that point, the book sort of turns into a middle-of-the-road lawyer book with very little ‘Devon’. It’s about Dom (the lawyer) to make Devon’s case and it all just gets repetitive and obvious, and like you are watching a really bad episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

After should have been all about Devon, and it could have been a great character-driven book. But now, it really isn’t: wrong POV, wrong focus, boring court case stuff and poor writing (get over the soccer/court comparisons already).  This one’s a miss!

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