Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu
FRIENDSHIP BOUND BY TRAGEDY CAN BE A GOOD THING, MAYBE?
Interests/Topics: friendship, abduction, mystery, family, trauma
Curriculum Connections: English
Blurb: I wish it were okay to peak through the windows of other people’s houses. I don’t mean in some weird, stalker-ish sort of way, so don’t get me wrong here. I just want to see how people decorate their homes. I’m especially interested in the big estates with lush grass and beautiful landscaping. You know the kind that you usually see set back from winding roads alongside a river? The rooms in those houses must be gorgeous.
Ethan, in Afterward, lives in a large, beautiful home, but he doesn’t find it comfortable. The only place he gets solace is in the garage where he can play his drums to his heart’s content. Playing the drums is even better when Caroline comes around with her guitar and they jam together. No one thought that Ethan and Caroline would ever become friends…or, for that matter, should even be friends. Ethan’s mother, especially, thinks their friendship is a very bad idea. How will Ethan ever be a normal teenager if Caroline is a constant reminder of the worst thing that’s ever happened to him?
When Caroline’s autistic brother Dylan is kidnapped, Caroline can’t help but blame herself. She was supposed to be watching him after all. When he is found four days later, he can’t tell anybody what happened, but he is terrified and unable to settle down. So Caroline seeks out answers from the one person who may have them: Ethan. You see, when Dylan was found, so was Ethan, kidnapped by the same man four years prior.
Bound together by the same tragedy, Caroline and Ethan forge ahead with their friendship despite what other people think is good for them. But it isn’t easy. For Ethan, Caroline brings with her a resurgence of traumatic memories; for Caroline, Ethan doesn’t have the answers Caroline so desperately needs.
So who do you turn to when your best friend is also your worst nightmare?
Flavour: “The reporters, some of them from as far away as England, were pretty interested in us, but Ethan Jorgenson got most of the attention. To be gone for four years and found just over an hour away? And to have apparently had the chance to leave and not have left? That’s what everyone was talking about under their breaths. The police kept our two families mostly separated in the aftermath. I didn’t see Ethan during the interviews at the police station. Or the examinations at the hospital. I’m not sure why.” (17)
“My eyes search [Ethan’s] house, wondering if I could just go up and ring the doorbell and ask this guy—this poor kid who suffered what was probably some sick, crazy sh** for years—what went down with my brother so maybe I can get an idea of how to help him. Assuming he can even be helped.” (64)
“I feel guilty for making my parents worry about me so much, and I feel guilty that I get so annoyed by them worrying. I want to be able to decide who I hang out with. Not that I necessarily want to hang out with Caroline. I mean, it was kind of cool how Caroline knew so much about my drums and music, but the idea of hanging out with her makes me nervous.” (78)