Wednesday, August 11, 2021



AfterMath is a sensitively written coming-of-age novel by Emily Barth Isler. Due out 7th Sept 2021 from Lerner Books on their Carolrhoda imprint, it's 272 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is such a warm and thoughtful book for middle grades and older. Despite the heavy themes of sudden violent loss, death, trauma, grief, painful family and friendship relations, and the general upheaval of adolescence, there are moments of humor and fun woven throughout. The author has a real gift with writing that engages and informs without ever being maudlin or preachy. Although it has been decades since I was Lucy's age, I think the honesty of the writing will touch most readers whatever their age. 

The author's positive and supportive matter-of-fact discussion of mental health issues and support for grief and healing are vitally important. She touches on the upside-down roles of parents and the "problem free" kid in families with a seriously ill or dying sibling; and she does so in a genuine and realistic way. 

I liked the character portrayals. They were believable and the author wrote them as living breathing people. They weren't perfect and the adults didn't have all the answers. I especially loved Mr. Jackson, Lucy's math teacher. He's such a positively portrayed, engaged, caring, and intelligent character. I appreciated that the author wrote inclusive, respectful, and positive portrayals of other ethnicities and backgrounds. Representation is important. It felt brave of the author to tackle the issues which she did and she did them so well.

The audiobook is narrated by the author herself and has a run time of 5 hours 7 minutes. She does a stellar job of delineating the characters' voices and keeping them distinct from one another. I had no trouble keeping them separate in my head during listening.

Five stars. Genuinely important and well written middle grade book. I would recommend it for public and school library acquisition, reading groups, and home use. The book includes study question prompts for discussions in the back of the book. Potential trigger warnings, shooting death, discussion of grief and mental health issues, death of a child. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.    

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