review: “life, after” July 17, 2010Posted by Katie in reviews.
Tags: arc, realistic fiction
Life After by Sarah Darer Littman.
Scholastic Press // ARC // 288 pages.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Traveling ARC Tours.
Dani lives in Argentina with her family – father, mother, and little sister. She has friends, and a boyfriend but her life is nowhere near perfect. Seven years ago, a terrorist attack took the lives of her aunt and unborn cousin. Right now, her family is struggling financially since they lost their family store and Dani’s father is depressed and angry. Many people are leaving Argentina and Dani’s family soon plans a move to America, for a new chance at life. But Dani and her family aren’t the only ones suffering from the aftermath of a terrorist attack – some of the students at Dani’s new school have personal ties to the recent September 11th attack in New York City.
I really enjoyed “Life, After.” I thought that it was a fairly realistic portrayal of grief and the struggle to return to normal after such catastrophic events take place. The story has great layers – parallels between the AMIA building in Buenos Aires terrorist attack and the more well-known (coming from a United States perspective) 9/11 terrorist attack that will really have readers relating to both teen’s struggles.
This novel covers a lot of difficult subjects (terrorism, immigration, poverty, autism spectrum disorders, grief, depression) without coming off as heavy-handed in terms of lessons or morals. And even though it might seem like those are a lot of topics to cover, the novel has great rhythm and flow. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the subjects at all.
My favorite parts of the novel were actually the scenes in Argentina, and I was sad to see us move from an unfamiliar place and setting to the very familiar contemporary United States. (My suspicion is that teens will have the opposite reaction.) I’m not sure how accurate the portrayal of Argentina is (just looked it up and the author has never been to Argentina, but did a good amount of research) – but I absolutely loved the setting and thought it came to life. I could see the streets and trees. I could imagine Dani’s apartment.
The characterization was awesome, and I thought Dani was full of life. Definitely enjoyed this one and can see a lot of different kinds of angles to sell it to teens. Looking forward to reading more of Darer Littman’s books! (Like “Purge” which is already on my TBR pile.)