After by Amy Efaw

After by Amy Efaw

Efaw, Amy.  After. Viking Juvenile.  2009. ISBN 0670011835

Reader’s Annotation: A baby is left for dead in a trashcan and a teen who claims not to have known she was ever pregnant.  Is it attempted murder or something more?

Plot Summary: Devon, a star soccer player, straight-A student and responsible has her world collapsing around her after a baby is found in the trash can behind her apartment.  Devon denies that she was ever pregnant despite being found by police still bloody and with the umbilical cord attached to her.  She is arrested and now faces the prosecution trying to get her tried as an adult for premeditated murder attempt.  Can Devon and her lawyer prove that she truly never realized she was pregnant and she panicked when she gave birth?

Critical Evaluation

This book is not for the faint of heart as Devon initially shows little to no remorse about the horrifying crime she committed of throwing her baby away in an apartment building trash can.  Devon is a difficult character to like as what we mostly see is someone so listless and defensive that you want to shake her until she gives some straight answers.  As the story goes on Efaw does a great job of demonstrating just how a person can go through an entire pregnancy in state of denial and even commit such a horrid act without truly realizing what they are doing.  In the end I still did not truly “like” Devon but I understood how she could behave the way she did.

This is a great book for teenage girls who have an unplanned pregnancy in that it shows that though they may feel ashamed, scared and like they have no one to turn to they may have more support than they realize.  During Devon’s hearing people involved in Devon’s life show that they wouldn’t have criticized her or turned away in disgust.  If she had only let them in they would have wanted to help Devon make it through this situation and avoided such a tragedy.

About the author

Amy is a busy mother to five kids as well as being the author of two books, After and Battledress.  On her website FAQ she says she gets her ideas for her books from all over the place from stories her kids bring home from school, her husband’s law cases or even something on TV.

Amy is a graduated of the military academy at West Point and is a former Army officer and said that Battledress was a sort of autobiographical book. She was writing about a girl who went through basic training at West Point and had to go through many of the things Amy herself went through.

Genre

Contemporary

Curriculum Ties

English/Sexual Education

Book talking idea

Talk about the dilemma in believing that Devon could truly go through an entire pregnancy without realizing she was pregnant.

The turmoil Devon faced with unplanned sex and the consequences.

Reading level

Ages 14 and up.

Challenge Issues

Graphic nature of Devon’s reaction to her pregnancy may be challenged by some parents.

I would have the library’s collection management policy on hand and explain that the library is not here to filter what patrons read.  If questioned about this policy I would direct the patron to the ALA Bill of Rights.  This book also serves to show teens that they can and should reach out for help in these types of situations.  They do not have to face it alone.

Why did I include this book?

Teen pregnancy has always been a major topic among teens and I found the idea of Devon’s casual abandonment of her baby in a trash can so horrifying I had to find out what happened.  It seemed like a situation any teenage girl might find herself in and they need to know there is help out there.

 

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Filed under Fiction, Realistic/Contemporary

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