After by Sue Lawson
It's What Happens After That Counts!
In one moment your whole life can change. For Callum, a moment of thoughtlessness has turned his world upside-down.
Before, Callum was popular, cool; a city kid active with friends and in sport, and everyone had known him as Cj. After, no one wanted him around. Callum had been shipped away to the country, dumped on his grandparents whom he had never met before.
Callum was feeling isolated and alone, but most of all he was feeling angry. Angry at his mother for forcing him to leave, angry at his grandparents for not understanding, angry at the bully at his new school for picking on him and the weak kids. But mostly Callum was angry at himself.
Callum had still not dealt with the tragedy that had instigated his move to the country. His mother had hoped that the move would help him to heal; instead Callum retreated further inside himself, pushing away anyone who tried to get close, pushing back the grief and guilt that was building inside him.
Luke 'Benny', a boy in Callum's class who has suffered a brain injury, befriends Callum, much to Callum's dismay. Before, Callum would have treated Luke just as the bullies at his new school do. After, now, Callum finds himself sticking up for Luke. Callum finds that his friendship is able to help Luke heal, what he didn't expect was how much Luke's friendship would help him heal.
After is a poignant and thought provoking novel that steps between the before and after of a life changing event in such a way as to create a dramatic and intriguing story that from the opening pages draws you in, suspended, till its conclusion.
Its relatable characters shape Callum's experiences and feelings, impacting on his relationships with those around him, his own feelings of self worth and his ability to cope with what has happened in his life. It is a story about relevant issues faced by teenagers; friendship, family, feelings of belong and abandonment, anger, low self-esteem, change, grief and loss.
Price (AU): $18.99
Recommended age: 13+
In a word: After
Re-read it: possibly
Star rating: three out of five