Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
There are so many of us who have had that day; that absolutely perfect day that, in one second, turns into the most horrendous nightmare we could possibly imagine. This author has given the world a story for all age groups; a story that teaches us what happens when life takes joy away, and the wonderous feelings we can achieve when life offers happiness to us once again.
In After, Lacey is taking her time upstairs, fixing her hair and putting on makeup - pretty much doing exactly what any teenage girl would do, while making her two brothers and father wait for her down below. When she finally saunters down the stairs, her brothers roll their eyes and her father offers her that smile...that smile that only a father can give to you, letting you know that you are the one and only girl on the entire planet (besides your mother) who he loves with all his heart. Unfortunately, that smile was one of his last, as a drugged-out driver plows through a stop sign and changes Lacey and her family's life forever.
Lacey took the blame immediately. (If it weren't for her stalling that morning then the accident never would've happened, and her father would still be with them.) As the family begins to crumble, Lacey takes on the role of nurse, angel, and nanny to her mother and brothers. She also must fight the strange looks that she gets in school from friends and teachers, as they try to console her. She feels almost like an alien when people offer her hang-dog expressions and whispers behind her back. In addition, Lacey's best friend has found her first "love" and has decided to spend most of her time with her boyfriend. She, too, has difficulties at home. Although her father is very much alive, her parents are going through a divorce and her mother and father have become changed people right before her eyes.
The author superbly shows how grief can affect every personality differently. In Lacey's household, Mom begins to stay at work very late - doing her high-profile lawyer routine so she can stay away from the house that has so many memories of the man she loved with all her heart. The youngest brother, Trevor, becomes absolutely quiet - choosing to immerse himself in his pet and reruns of The Crocodile Hunter. The oldest brother, Logan, decides to date one of the snootiest cheerleaders in school, and drink himself under the table, trying to forget the man he used to look up to. And Lacey? Well...she becomes the worrier for her family's troubles. She achieves straight A status in school and tries very hard to befriend people who need her help, while feeling alone at all times. One day, Sam Stone, a new kid, walks into the school. Sam is a young man with his own issues, with "eyes like the sea right before a storm." As they begin to talk, Lacey soon discovers that Sam could be her life raft - the one person who could save her from drowning in the hopelessness that has her by the throat.
This book was based on a wonderful organization in Atlanta, Georgia called Kate's Club. A young woman began the Club when she had a loss of her own and wanted to 'build' a place where children could go and talk to others who have felt the same kind of pain that they experienced when losing a loved one. Not only is this book a wonderful way to cope with loss, it also allows people of all ages to work through the pain and anguish that happens when life takes a sudden turn for the worst.
This was very special to me, personally. I also grew up in small town New England, where everyone had known everyone else since birth. I also was unfortunate enough to lose my father. Although I was not as young as Lacey, the pain was still very real. And having to learn that my father was still with me, could still see his granddaughter grow up, and I could still talk to him, took a long time to find within myself. Therefore, I want to thank this author for writing a story that all ages, types, backgrounds, etc. can read, and understand that they're not alone; that there are others out there in the universe who can help you through the rough times.