After

After by Amy Efaw

As this book opens, fifteen-year-old Devon is lying on a bloodied couch, staring blankly at the TV screen showing some mindless morning show.  Within minutes, her mother returns from her graveyard shift at Safeway and Devon is being questioned by two police officers sent to investigate a newborn baby found in a dumpster behind the Davenport’s apartment building.  While her mom flirts shamelessly with them, the officers question Devon like she’s a suspect, especially when her mother flips her blanket off her, revealing the blood oozing through her soccer sweatpants.

Devon is taken to hospital, and then locked up in a juvenile detention center, charged with attempted murder.  She is not the kind of young woman most people would connect with this type of crime.  A straight A student and star soccer player, Devon is actually the responsible one in her small family of two.  Her mom constantly makes bad choices about men and money, essentially leaving it up to her daughter to raise herself.  The readers learn Devon’s story through interviews with her lawyer and flashbacks about her life during the last year.

This is a very graphic and emotionally wrenching story.  I had to put it down several times, and come back to it later.  Because of all the research she did, the writer is somehow able to take us into this young woman’s head, even making her sympathetic.  What saddened me the most was the fact that she really had no mother to love and raise her in the way most of us do.  Again and again her “mother’s” lack of empathy, support and caring made me cry for Devon, even more than the baby she abandoned.

At home you can look at this two-minute interview with the author telling why she wrote this devastating story.

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