Roaring Brook Press
September 20, 2016
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When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other.
You feel better after reading Afterward. True, that's not something one would expect given that it's a novel about the aftermath of two boys' return home after being kidnapped, but it's true. The characters - Ethan and Caroline, especially - have go on such a journey through the book that you cannot help but feel hopeful for them and the future.
That is not to say that things are hopeful or good-feeling for them, necessarily. Author Jennifer Mathieu does a superb job showing us what Ethan is experiencing now that he's 'rescued' and returned home.I liked that the book focused so much on the present with Ethan, his family and their healing from what happened rather than on what happened. We do know some of it, but mostly through how Ethan is learning to deal with the thoughts and emotions caused rather than flashbacks.
Caroline and Ethan are not two characters you would ordinarily put together, yet they fit so well. The kidnappings are the first, obvious thing that connects them, but as the story progresses, we see that it's not the only thing. I enjoyed what the author gave them as a shared hobby and love.
The way that time passes in the book fit the story very well. Some of the chapters took place on the same day or the succeeding day, but there were times that days,, weeks or months passed between one chapter and the next. This way we see the important events and their followup - even if that takes weeks.
I thought that the author was very respectful and insightful when it came to everyone's healing, coping with trauma, their grief, confusion and love in Afterwards. Ethan and Caroline's families handle things very differently and their families are impacted very differently but it felt very organic and also gives readers things to think about with their own lives or others.
review copy received thanks to publisher, via NetGalley