Ethan has suffered for four years in his abductor’s house. However, he isn’t alone; a seven-year-old boy Dylan, who has autism, accompanied him through the trials. They are both rescued after four long years. Unfortunately, their wounds seem to be internal, not physical. What happens as the cameras stop rolling and the curtain is pulled away?
Each family struggles to rebuild their former lives after the rescue. With recurring nightmares, flashbacks, and even memory loss, the two boys suffer, trying to adapt to their normal lives. Caroline, Dylan’s older sister, is desperate to find out what had been done to her little brother. Ethan visits a therapist weekly, who helps him cope with his flashbacks, mental breakdowns, and PTSD. Dylan’s family does not have enough money to pay for a therapist. Caroline seeks out Ethan to see if he can help, while Dylan’s conditions only worsen.
"A phenomenal read....the author is able to make us empathize and relate to each of the characters. AFTERWARD is full of genuine characters written as clearly as if they were real."
Written by Jennifer Mathieu, the book is a phenomenal read. Placing you in the minds of both Caroline and Ethan, the author is able to make us empathize and relate to each of the characters. Each story told by the Caroline and Ethan gives two sides of the situation very clearly. Unlike other action stories, this isn’t about what happened during the abductions, but rather the trauma and hardships of making new relationships afterwards.
While the book tends to be dark, there’s also an undercurrent of hope. AFTERWARD is full of genuine characters written as clearly as if they were real. Positioning therapy in a positive light, the book allows readers to understand exactly how realistic and deep the situation is for Ethan. Readers get to see that the lack of mental help can make things much harder than they could be. It really stood out to me how the therapist used accurate, real-life techniques during Ethan’s sessions to calm his memories from the past.
There is no romantic relationship between Ethan and Caroline, something I am grateful for, but instead a friendship in which they both depend on each other to walk through this bumpy part of their lives. Although I am usually not a fan of books about friendships or relationships, this dire situation in which the characters are placed really drew me in.
AFTERWARDis not suitable for children, containing foul language, drug use, and underage drinking. It is a very serious, tragic subject that also shines a light of realistic hope that every situation will be better with time and friends.
Reviewed by Jeremy H., Teen Board Member on September 30, 2016