Sunday, June 24, 2012
After by Amy Efaw
Devon is the perfect kid: straight A student, team leader on the soccer field, and responsible daughter. So, what makes a girl like this hide a pregnancy, deliver IT on a dirty bathroom floor, and wrap IT in a garbage sack to make IT disappear?
The novel begins after the baby’s cries from the dumpster attract the attention of a neighbor walking his dog in the early morning hours. The baby survives but a manhunt for the “coldhearted psycho” who placed her there leads to Devon. No one cares who Devon was before she placed her baby in the dumpster. All they care about its after.
The ending to this novel salvaged the entire book for me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t empathize with Devon, or I felt like she should have been demonized for her actions. Many readers can’t get past what Devon did to realize the true message of the novel. For me, the plot seemed very stagnant and repetitive until the scenes with the hearing that decided whether or not she would be tried as an adult. Once this portion of the novel progressed, the plot developed depth and Devon was humanized, allowing the reader to develop a connection. Until this point, she was a very two-dimensional character that the reader could care less what happened to her.
Efaw uses a nonjudgmental voice to present the story of a young girl who committed a horrible crime. This novel shows readers that there are reasons behind actions. Maybe we don’t understand them, but that doesn’t invalidate them. Also, just because we can empathize with someone doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held accountable. Sometimes, however, we need to know what happened before, so that we know how to reactafter.