When Caroline’s little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can’t help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can’t see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend–and their best option just might be each other.
Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu is beautiful and heart-breaking but also incredibly hopeful novel. The story opens with Before chapters from both Caroline and Ethan’s point of view. You are instantly thrust into the story of kidnapping that brings not only these two characters together but these two families. The majority of this book looks at the after, the moments after the rescue.
The entire novel flips back and forth POV of Caroline and Ethan. Both characters had a unique voice and different struggles. Early on, you learn that Ethan has been coping with the last few years of his life through therapy and medication. I loved the realistic portrayal and importance these can give to a person. Caroline and her family on the other hand do not have the means to get any kind of therapy for the family or specifically her brother. Caroline’s brother has autism and cannot communicate to his family the impact the kidnapping has on him. The family is struggling and Caroline begins searching for answers, which leads her to Ethan. Together the two help each other piece together broken parts of their life.
I enjoyed that this book wasn’t focused on romance and one person saving the other. Caroline and Ethan are broken in their own ways and find a common ground of music. At first they can’t use words, just rely on playing music together.
Mathieu wrote this story beautifully and the story has amazing pacing. Once I picked this one up, I didn’t put it down! I kept reading because I wanted to find out more secrets from before. I reccomend this to any reader who enjoys realistic fiction that deals with heavier topics.
Young adult author Jennifer Mathieu (pronounced Muh-two), is a writer and English teacher who lives in Texas with her family. A native of the East Coast and a former journalist, she enjoys writing contemporary young adult fiction that treats teenagers like real people. She loves to eat and hates to cook.
A copy of this book was provided for an honest review.