Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
Published by Crown Publishing Group
Publish Date: April 24, 2012
Source: Crown Publishing Group/TLCBookTours
There is a fire and they are in there. They are in there…
Black smoke stains a summer blue sky. A school is on fire. And one mother, Grace, sees the smoke and rush. She knows her teenage daughter Jenny is inside. She runs into the burning building to rescue her.
Afterwards Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her children from the person who’s still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love. –(summary excerpt from Goodreads)
My Thoughts: Reading Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton was completely reading outside of my norm. As a rule, I do not particularly care for mystery thrillers – or rather, I never really seek them out that often. In this case, I really wanted to read a book by this particular author, so I jumped at the chance to read this one.
Afterwards opens with the school catching on fire and Grace Covey rushing into the burning building to save her children, followed by the description of the critical injuries she and her daughter Jenny sustained. I was overwhelmed with the intensity of this to my core. I just knew that if the story started this way it would likely be this way to the end.
The story then switched into police-mode, and here is where it gets interesting. On one hand, there are the police and investigators working to try and figure out how the fire started, why it started, and who started it. It is quickly determined to be the work of arson, making part of the book a series of interrogations, suspects, talking through motives, and such. But on the other hand, Grace and Jenny Covey are also working together to find out who started the fire. Yep, that’s right, I said Grace and Jenny Covey.
See, this story is told by Grace as she and her daughter Jenny lay critically ill and unconscious in the hospital, fighting for their lives. Despite their unconscious state, the pair are able to walk and talk and think and rationalize in some sort of out-of-body state – only no one else can see or hear them. They can even touch other people (hug and comfort their grieving relatives), but no one can feel their touch. Grace recounts everything to her husband Mike as he suffers the tragedy at her bedside, only he cannot hear her and has no idea she is there.
As the police investigate, Grace and Jenny investigate. Eventually, the arsonist is determined. THIS was an absolute roller coaster for me. I’m not used to these mystery thriller books, so the ups and downs of nailing down a suspect only to find another clue at the last second, starting the entire process again, over and over – well, it tore my nerves up.
I loved reading the dynamic and display of affection and love between the members of the Covey family. This was a huge part of Afterwards and I was glad for that. It was lovely to read Mike Covey’s thoughts as he said them out loud to his wife and his daughter, and as his wife talked back to him even knowing he could not hear her. These people were written as a strong family, full of love, and I found that reassuring and needed for the intensity of this book.
Of course, there were several other twists in the story that made it interesting – little reasons why this person or that person could be the suspect. In the end, I was completely surprised and would never have picked the arsonist that the author determined. And there is the issue of whether or not Grace and Jenny heal from their injuries and if there are any lasting effects to these two and to rest of the family. Be warned: have a box of Kleenex handy.
Ultimately, Afterwards was outside of my normal type of read. I found that even though it was very different for me (and therefore very slow reading), I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know who started that fire. I initially found the second-person narrative a little clunky, but this resolved itself within a few pages and felt completely comfortable to me throughout the entire rest of the book. In fact, to write it differently would be to write another story entirely. I’d recommend this book to fans of crime thrillers and mystery, and I’d be interested to see if the narrative style suited their tastes or not. I quite liked it.
Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
is currently available for purchase.