Grief, Death, and Loss are themes often covered or at least touched upon in MG books. Whether it be losing a relative or a pet, there are many stories that might help kids cope through a loss. One of my favorite lists is 55 Best Middle Grade Books about Death and Grief on the READING MIDDLE GRADE blog.
But none of those handle this sensitive topic like the plot of AFTERMATH.
Here’s what to expect:
Twelve-year-old Lucy (pictured on the cover) has moved to a new town with her parents after younger brother, Theo, died of heart complications. They don’t talk about Theo and have never recovered from the shock of losing him.
The move takes them to a small Virginia town where four years prior a shooter killed 32 and wounded 24 innocent lives at an elementary school. Lucy enrolls in seventh grade where everyone is still reeling from the horrific event. It seems each one has a story of a relative or friend now gone forever. Lucy doesn’t share anything about her more recent loss. The effects of PTSD are everywhere she turns.
If that weren’t enough to pour on the sadness, Lucy’s family moved into a home where Lucy discovers her bedroom’s past occupant was killed in the shooting. The next shock comes when the only friend she has at her new school is the shooter’s sister.
I’m sure your head is spinning by now. Mine too. I was at a nearby school back in 1999 when the Columbine massacre unfolded. For the first time I heard “Lock the doors and shelter in place,” as everyone waited for more information. It was a difficult, scary wait. It’s been 20 years but the event will never be forgotten by those in that community.
AfterMath is more than coping with tragedy. It’s also about healing, understanding, and a teacher who truly makes a difference. It would be a helpful beginning for those in need of answers.
The title alone has two meanings. One of course is the aftermath of how to cope with the shooting or the loss of a loved one. But it also hints at Lucy’s love of math and how it can’t explain what has happened to this town and her family. She must find other ways to figure this out.
Fortunately there is her Math teacher who starts a mime club where she and several other kids silently act out scenes they choose. Mr. Jackson is kind and mentors Lucy to grow as a person, giving her confidence to face classmates and her parents. It’s a lovely transition.
Those you love are linked forever in your heart, and yes, counseling is of utmost importance. A tough read but one that provides a heartfelt new beginning.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emily Barth Isler is a writer, journalist, and natural beauty editor. AFTERMATH is her first novel. She has a B.A. in Film Studies from Wesleyan University and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
A former child actress, Isler performed all over the world in theatre, film, and TV. Emily spent many years in New York writing for episodic television with Emmy-award-winning PhoebeTV. In addition to her book, Emily writes about eco-friendly beauty products and skincare and has written sitcoms, parenting columns, and personal essays.
As a third-generation writer, Emily’s grandfather, Alan Barth, was an editorial writer for the Washington Post for over thirty years and was a well-known advocate for gun control and common-sense gun laws. Although she never met her late grandfather, Emily believes that she was writing AFTERMATH with him in mind all along.
Website: https://emilybarthisler.com Instagram & Twitter: @emilybarthisler
I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Comments are welcome below>
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