I am so glad I had the opportunity to read this book! After by Amy Efaw is a wonderfully well-written young adult book that explores the case of a teenage mother who gives birth and leaves her newborn in the dumpster.
I want to start out by quoting something the author wrote in her notes at the end. The author's note is a few pages long and explains her inspiration for writing the book as well as the research she did. Amy Efaw says,
"... in an attempt to alleviate the growing problem and give pregnant women a way to anonymously abandon their babies without fear of prosecution, Texas was the first state to enact what would later be termed "safe haven" legislation. That was in 1999, and since then, all fifty states have now passed similar legislation. Yet news outlets all over the U.S. are still reporting these "dumpster baby" stories with alarming regularity. So, why is this still happening? After attempts to answer that question."
The novel starts out with a baby being found in the dumpster. Devon, 15, is soon after found to be the mother who abandoned her baby. Devon has, up until this point, been the picture perfect student with good grades and extra-curricular involvement -- all this despite her imperfect home life. Though the novel is written in 3rd person, we follow Devon's point of view through her experience in jail and court and thinking back to what has happened -- all of which Devon has only few memories of. What I loved about this book was that Devon felt like such a real person. Her reactions to her environment and her actions were so genuine, and Efaw does a great job at making the reader feel for Devon. That's not to say this is a book about seeing the mother as a victim or the prosecutor as callous but, rather, it's about just getting into the thoughts and mind of the mother and trying to understand her a little.
After also had an interesting psychological aspect to it (trying to determine why Devon did what she did) but doesn't delve too deeply into the topic -- just enough to add to the storyline. Another good thing, for me, was that it was an easy read but this didn't in any way take anything from the intensity or genuine feeling in the book.
I highly recommend this book to others! I also suggest checking out Amy Efaw's website which is very interestingly laid out and full of more information about the book and her writing process.
*on one last note... I have to say the cover of this book is so clever to me. Devon is leaning against some type of wall or window and her reflection on the left shows her with a little baby bump and the real her on the right is obviously lacking it.*
Publish date: August 11, 2009
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