by Kate Hart
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About the Author-
- Kate Hart has worked as a teacher and grantwriter and currently builds treehouses. She is a blogger for YA Highway and hosts the Badass Ladies You Should Know series online. After the Fall is her first novel. She lives in northwest Arkansas. katehart.com
November 7, 2016
High school seniors Raychel and Matt have been best friends forever, and any day now, Matt is going to tell her that he loves her. But while he’s dawdling, his younger brother, Andrew—the designated screw-up to Matt’s responsible A student—makes his move. In addition to the questions of brotherly rivalry, secrecy, and family dynamics introduced by this turn of events, Raychel is also struggling with a nonconsensual sexual encounter and worrying about her future, since there’s no money for college. Hart’s debut novel has a lot going for it—well-defined and believable major and minor characters, in particular—as well as a lot going on. The book takes up consent, slut shaming, issues of class and (to a lesser extent) race, unrequited love, and competition between siblings—and then adds a tragic accident and the resulting guilt and fractures. Although it can feel overloaded as a result, Hart holds it all together and closes with an ending that retains a measure of hope without becoming unrealistically perfect. Ages 14–up. Agent: Adriann Ranta, Foundry Literary + Media.
October 15, 2016
Unrequited love and family tragedy destroy Matt and Raychel's friendship.Raychel's childhood friendship with Matt slowly evolves until by their senior year, she's been nearly adopted by his family. But Matt's narration reveals that he already considers Raychel "his girl" and believes that declaring his feelings will inevitably lead to romance. However, he's also clearly bothered by Raychel's drinking, party hookups, and acceptance that she may have to attend an inexpensive local college rather than one near his own first choice. Soon his interactions with her seem almost Pygmalion-esque. Raychel senses that Matt's attitude of superiority sometimes stems from his wealthy, white background, whereas she's "poor white trash from the Delta," so it's not entirely surprising when his less-judgmental younger brother, Andrew, ends up successfully romancing Raychel. Her relationship with both brothers is derailed when they misinterpret white classmate Carson's sexual assault of Raychel at a party as consensual. Over the course of the novel, Raychel's interactions with Carson raise important questions about what it means to consent to sexual activity, though the provided answers lack nuance. In similar fashion, the exploration of race posed by Indian-American friend Asha's romance with African-American Spencer doesn't go as far as it could. Eventually a buildup of communication breakdowns leads to tragedy. The novel introduces many complicated topics--from sexual assault to issues of class and race--but fails to address them thoroughly. (Fiction. 14-18)
COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
December 1, 2016
Gr 9 Up-Seventeen-year-old Raychel describes herself as "poor white trash from the Delta," while her best friend, Matt, is the son of a physician and a university professor. They've been friends for so long that Raychel is an unofficial member of Matt's family. Matt has a secret crush on Raychel, but he doesn't act on it, because Raychel has a strict policy of not dating high school boys. So he's surprised when he hears a rumor that Raychel has "hooked up" with Carson Tipton, star of the school baseball team. Matt knows that Raychel often drinks too much at parties, but he's shocked that she'd break her own rule with Carson, of all people. Raychel was chatting with Carson at a local frat party, and when he asked her to continue their conversation outside while he had a smoke, she agreed. But does that mean that she agreed to perform fellatio on him? She feels confused and guilty and is unable to talk with Matt about her experience. At first, this title seems like a well-written examination of the definitions of assault and consent. But as a relationship blossoms between Raychel and Matt's brother, Andrew, questions about communication and honesty emerge even more strongly, and after a family tragedy, grief and guilt are also brought into the mix. Those are some pretty heavy themes for one book to explore, but Hart does a good job of handling her ambitious plot. VERDICT Like Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak and Courtney Summers's All the Rage, this is an important novel for teens and adults to discuss together.-Marlyn Beebe, Long Beach Public Library, CA
Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
- Kirkus "Raychel's interactions with Carson raise important questions about what it means to consent to sexual activity..."
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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