Reviews

AfterMath by Emily Barth Isler

cassiesbookshelves's review

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5.0

This is one of the best middle grade books that I've read in a long time, but it hurts my heart that it needed to be written in the first place.

The book follows seventh grader Lucy, whose little brother just died from a congenital heart defect. Her parents, looking for a fresh start, move to a town devastated by a school shooting five years earlier. Lucy's new classmates are the survivors.

I've never read a middle grade book that dealt with grief and trauma so well. The characters all cope with their traumas in different ways, and it helps kids understand that everyone grieves differently. It also has a really poignant lesson about gun violence, and it breaks my heart that so many kids will be able to relate to the shooting survivors.

Overall, this was an amazing middle grade read. It does handle some very mature and emotional content, so be sure to discuss with young readers in advance and be careful recommending this book to those who aren't emotionally ready for it.

ashleyfuhr's review

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5.0

I simply don't have the words for how brilliant this book is.

Lucy loses her brother to a congenital heart defect, and her parents are looking for a new start. What better place than a community that understands loss? Moving to a community that is familiar with death, her parents think the transition will make their loss feel easier, but Lucy finds it to be anything but. How does she fit in with everyone who experience a school shooting? How can she share her loss, when theirs seems so much greater? Will she every escape the shadow of the shooting or the shadow of losing her brother?

The tragedy of loss, the darkness of trauma, the breadth of one person's decisions, the fragility yet resiliency of children, the power of friendship - this book has it all. What a stunning read, with so many nuggets of brilliant writing, yet perfect for a middle grade audience. Emily Barth Isler did an outstanding job of tackling very difficult and delicate subjects with both truth and tact. I'd recommend it to any of my friend's children. The audiobook (read by the author) was also done very well.

I received an audio copy of this book via NetGalley. I read and reviewed this book voluntarily, and all opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.

alireadsandknits's review against another edition

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4.0

I downloaded this audio book, but then there were several shootings and I had to put this aside for a long while. I was feeling overwhelmed with the world.

I thought this book handled the subject of death (both expected-terminal illness, and unexpected-the school shooting) with care and sensitivity. This is appropriate and recommended for both tween and adult readers.

miszjeanie's review against another edition

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4.0

Aftermath is a powerful, heartbreaking, and hopeful middle grade book about the impact of school shootings, grief, and friendships. Lucy’s love for math and the math jokes throughout this book will appeal to kids who like STEM middle grade books. At the same time, the mime class will appeal to kids who love the arts, making this a potential crowd pleaser. Although grief is never a fun topic to discuss, the author does a great job of making this realistic without being utterly depressing. I would definitely recommend this one!

bookonthebrightside30's review against another edition

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5.0

This book was heartfelt and thought provoking. After the death of her younger brother from a congenital heart defect, Lucy's family moves to a new town for a "fresh start" where she attends a new school. This is a difficult transition for her after her family's loss and their inability to communicate about their grief. Additionally, she discovers the school was the site of a school shooting several years before so the students in her grade are the survivors of that tragedy. Lucy's character is so well written and authentic. She enjoys math and uses the logic to make sense of her life. There are funny math jokes and puns through out that are enjoyable and add a sense of lightness to the book. This was such a beautiful story of these kids and what they went through, including the sister of the shooter. I felt the author portrayed their feelings and told about what happened with such care and empathy. This book was incredible. Highly recommend - Five Stars

axolotl13's review

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emotional hopeful reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

annieb123's review against another edition

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5.0

Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader.

AfterMath is a sensitively written coming-of-age novel by Emily Barth Isler. Due out 7th Sept 2021 from Lerner Books on their Carolrhoda imprint, it's 272 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is such a warm and thoughtful book for middle grades and older. Despite the heavy themes of sudden violent loss, death, trauma, grief, painful family and friendship relations, and the general upheaval of adolescence, there are moments of humor and fun woven throughout. The author has a real gift with writing that engages and informs without ever being maudlin or preachy. Although it has been decades since I was Lucy's age, I think the honesty of the writing will touch most readers whatever their age.

The author's positive and supportive matter-of-fact discussion of mental health issues and support for grief and healing are vitally important. She touches on the upside-down roles of parents and the "problem free" kid in families with a seriously ill or dying sibling; and she does so in a genuine and realistic way.

I liked the character portrayals. They were believable and the author wrote them as living breathing people. They weren't perfect and the adults didn't have all the answers. I especially loved Mr. Jackson, Lucy's math teacher. He's such a positively portrayed, engaged, caring, and intelligent character. I appreciated that the author wrote inclusive, respectful, and positive portrayals of other ethnicities and backgrounds. Representation is important. It felt brave of the author to tackle the issues which she did and she did them so well.

The audiobook is narrated by the author herself and has a run time of 5 hours 7 minutes. She does a stellar job of delineating the characters' voices and keeping them distinct from one another. I had no trouble keeping them separate in my head during listening.

Five stars. Genuinely important and well written middle grade book. I would recommend it for public and school library acquisition, reading groups, and home use. The book includes study question prompts for discussions in the back of the book. Potential trigger warnings, shooting death, discussion of grief and mental health issues, death of a child.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

swim559's review

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emotional sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

lemonlohan's review against another edition

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3.0

This was good, but maybe just not my thing? My biggest pet peeve in novels is statistics being used, I just find it incredibly boring, especially when I have to listen to it over and over via the audiobook.

Though not completely for me, I can definitely see the merit of this book. It deals with grief very well and the characters are decent, it just feels a bit incomplete.

readinglover22's review against another edition

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challenging emotional inspiring sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5