June 27, 2017
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In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen's decision to end an unwanted pregnancy
“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.
As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.
This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts
Initially, I was not that sure I wanted to read Aftercare Instructions. A book that starts with a girl's boyfriend leaving while she's having an abortion? It sounded like it might be too . . . something (political? heavy? irreverent even? I don't know). I am thrilled that I did decide to read it, though. This novel is so, so much more than I anticipated - better, smarter, complicated, thoughtful, even sweet.
Gen's boyfriend Peter abandoning her at Planned Parenthood is the latest 'not-supposed-to-happen' thing to happen to her, but it's nowhere near the only one. Her father died, her mother hasn't yet gotten over that, her sister no long lives with them, the school therapist wants different answers than Gen gives, and she has a 'former' best friend. While her relationship with Peter was unexpected, it was supposed to be what made those other things bearable.
Now, Gen isn't sure how she feels. About Peter. About anything, really.
New experiences - and new people - help her as she tries to understand the past and guess what it means for now.
The way we get scenes from Gen's past told as though scenes in a play, written in script form, work well and fits even better as the story progresses. I liked that we got a fuller picture of who the Gen was at the start of the story, what she'd experienced, what had happened/been done to her, but only later in the story. It lets you get things from her perspective, her interpretation. Readers seem to get a better understanding of things at the same time she does. I loved Gen and her whole journey: the past, the present, what she realizes and pieces together.
It is a small thing, but I loved the reasoning behind Genesis's name. I wondered about it from almost the beginning and liked that we didn't get an explanation until nearly half way through the book. It made the answer more rewarding because we knew the characters and understood how true what Gen said was.
If you are at all one the fence about this book, do yourself a favor and read it. Not only does it approach a topic (abortion) rarely discussed, but it does so in a very skilled manner and all as part captivating and compelling story with a fantastic cast of unique characters and an unforgettable main character. I am very much looking forward to what's next from Bonnie Pipkin.
digital review copy received, from publisher, via NetGalley