Saturday, 18 September 2010

Review: After You by Julie Buxbaum

I'd better start by saying this: Julie Buxbaum's After You is not an easy read. It's a story of grief, loss, trauma and struggling to cope with the things you and other people have been hiding from. Quite simply, it's about protagonist Ellie's attempts to deal with life after her best friend is murdered - and that includes coping with Lucy's suddenly silent daughter, and her grieving, withdrawing husband. This makes for quite a gritty novel, in some places even downright depressing.

I didn't find the characters particularly memorable or original. They are distinct from one another, but not particularly different from most generic characters usually found in this sort of novel. But it's the story and themes here that really pull this book through. 

My favourite part of the novel is The Secret Garden, which Ellie uses to help Lucy's daughter Sophie recover. The author draws on the similar themes of loss, loneliness and discovery, and plays on them beautifully. The best scenes here, I thought, involved Ellie, Sophie and The Secret Garden. To anyone who loved that book as a child (or now), you'll love those scenes too.

I'd definitely pick this one up. It's a tough, gritty, emotional read, but it's worth it.

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