Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: After by Amy Efaw

Age Level: 8th grade & up

# of Pages: Hardback 352 pages

Publisher: Viking Juvenile (August 11, 2009)

An infant left in the trash to die. A teenage mother who never knew she was pregnant . . .

Before That Morning, these were the words most often used to describe straight-A student and star soccer player Devon Davenport: responsible, hardworking, mature. But all that changes when the police find Devon home sick from school as they investigate the case of an abandoned baby. Soon the connection is made—Devon has just given birth; the baby in the trash is hers. After That Morning, there’s only one way to define Devon: attempted murderer.

And yet gifted author Amy Efaw does the impossible— she turns Devon into an empathetic character, a girl who was in such deep denial that she refused to believe she was pregnant. Through airtight writing and fast-paced, gripping storytelling, Ms. Efaw takes the reader on Devon’s unforgettable journey toward clarity, acceptance, and redemption.

We have seen the stories on the news and thought, “Oh wow! How could someone do that?” or “What an awful thing to happen,” and often we don’t think too much of it three or four days later. I know I was probably guilty of that much more before I became a mother. As a mother though, I have to think about the state of mind that a woman or girl must be in to abandon their child in a place where they know the child is doomed to die. After does a beautiful job exploring that concept through Devon’s ordeal. As I read this book I was completely captivated by the fast paced writing that was so full of truth and gave such insight to this concept of “dumpster babies” who we often don’t think will have any impact on us. I don’t know how anyone who reads this book can walk by a dumpster from here on out and want to go check just to make sure there isn’t a baby in it. Maybe it is just the mother in me… I don’t know.

Efaw has done an amazing job allowing us to get inside the head of a girl who is dealing with so much more that even she realizes and paints a picture at what could possibly be going on in the minds of these young mothers who make the decision to dump their babies. I love that this book is completely different from anything that I have ever read and made me think long and hard about a person or group of people whom I may only give a passing thought to once or twice a year when I see the story on the news. Devon’s character was beautifully written and as a reader, you are drawn to her character. I found myself rooting for her because she did discover who she was through this process.

Efaw’s book takes the perspective of the would-be mother and lets us get inside her head and attempt to understand the thought process behind dumping a baby. She has done an amazing job writing about a controversial topic and one that most people tend to avoid because “that could never happen to them.” Efaw has written Devon to be completely relatable which some may find shocking, but I find refreshing. It lets readers know that we all make bad decisions and we all may not know why we make those decisions, no matter how big or small they are! Devon’s journey into the realization of what happened and her effort to take responsibility for it leave readers asking questions they may not have even given thought to before reading this novel.

This gut wrenching story enlightens readers to an area that we may not be comfortable with but one that is impacting our world at an alarming rate. Efaw cites in the author’s note that every day in America approximately of one baby is abandoned in a dumpster and that 45 percent of those children who are slain by a parent are done within the first twenty-four hours of birth. Those, to me, are alarming statistics! There are young girls out there who don’t know what to do and are resorting to doing what Devon did and may not realize, like Devon, what is going on. Maybe this impacts me so much because I am a mother and a teacher and I see this every day, maybe not. Maybe this is something I am supposed to get on a soap box and do something about… I don’t know. I’ll definitely be praying about this one though!

Visit Amy here and see what else she has going on!

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