gbs: review of life, after

Abby Stevens, a blogger and aspiring author, offered to guest blog with a book review of LIFE, AFTER by Sarah Darer Littman. LIFE, AFTER is to be released July 1, 2010. Make sure to check out The Tabby Catt, Abby's blog!


There was a time, Before, when I too was a normal girl…

So unfolds the story of 16-year-old Dani Bensimon, an Argentine Jew trying to cope with the unsettling events surrounding the Argentine economic crisis in the years following 9/11.

When Dani was small, she enjoyed a content, upper-middle-class life. Her father doted upon her. Her mother always had her favorite cookies waiting when she got home from school. She had friends and snacked at her favorite café weekly.

But that was Before. Before an act of terrorism killed her beloved pregnant aunt. Before her father lost the clothing store that had been in his family for generations and sank into a deep, angry depression. Before her friends emigrated to escape the violent poverty of Buenos Aires.

Before America.

In America, Dani must deal with English idioms, a gaggle of mean girls, and her Argentine boyfriend who becomes more distant by the day. Then Dani discovers After in the form of a pair of unlikely friends who understand a thing or two about loss at the hands of terrorism.

Life moves on. Before becomes After. And Dani Bensimon learns that if you don't give up, things get better.

I noticed Littman's novel because of its whimsical cover, but I was delighted to find LIFE, AFTER far more than just a pretty cover - it is a touching, funny book that made me laugh and cry. My favorite moment involves Dani standing up to a bully who really has it coming, and when she finally lets loose, it is a moment of pure, rallying satisfaction.

Dani is a strong character who never fully realizes her own strength. She is frustrated and occasionally sarcastic. She is downtrodden but hopeful, sad but never defeated.

Littman's characters are dynamic, Dani's voice captivating, the story well-paced, and the ending satisfying. Littman expertly weaves themes of loyalty, acceptance, and grief throughout without feeling forced.

The genre might be Young Adult, but LIFE, AFTER is a universal read anyone can enjoy.