The Low Down: Ella, Sydney and Astrid have been best friends forever. But when Astrid commits suicide after they graduate from high school, Ella and Sydney have different ways of handling the hurt and loss. Ella is determined to find out the why while Sydney believes that nothing good will come from knowing. How could they have let her go? Why didn’t they push and pry and try to get her to open up? It’s because they always believed they’d have another day with her, another year, a lifetime.
Ella’s boyfriend, Ben, is worried about her. Then Astrid’s aunt and cousin, Jake, show up to help out at the coffee shop while Astrid’s mother, Grace, takes a breather. Ella has an immediate connection with Jake, someone who knew and loved Astrid and doesn’t mind that it’s all Ella can talk about right now. But is Ella’s closeness to Jake threatening her relationship with Ben?
And Sydney’s fear comes to fruition; they start to unravel the mystery surrounding Astrid’s death, discovering secrets and lies and deceptions. Then Ella swears she receives text messages, phone calls and Facebook posts from Astrid. That she sees glimpses of her red hair, her favorite dress. And things are happening at their favorite hideaway, a cabin in the woods, creepy things that can’t be explained. After all, it is where Astrid was found. Is she still there?
Best Thang ‘Bout It: I loved the even tenor of this book. Don’t get me wrong; it was heartbreaking, devastating and full of pain. What it wasn’t? Melodramatic. Fake. Depressing. It was written exactly how one would feel in those days after something horrible and unexplainable had happened. Like moving through jello. Like walking around with earplugs in. Like feeling the inevitable “if only I had…” that you feel when you don’t have any of the answers. Trying to make sense of things. How everyone handles tragedy so differently. How you wish you could feel “normal” again. How you wish you’d noticed anything “before.”
It’s all real, honest and laid bare: the feeling of being ripped apart, everything changing, about being left behind to deal with the aftermath. There’s no “bad guy” or martyr here. And you will need a big hug after you’ve finished reading.
The Bottom Line: The Writing King of Difficult Subjects has to be John Green. After reading The After Girls, I would definitely put Ms. Konen in his court.
The After Girls by Leah Konen was published today by Merit Press. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to Merit Press and Leah Konen.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
Ages: 13 and up
Just So You Know: There’s some underage drinking, sexual discussions and profanity.