AFTER EVER AFTER by Jordan Sonnenblick
Series: Sequel to Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie
Publication Date: February 1st 2010 by Scholastic Press
Summary: Jeffrey isn’t a little boy with cancer anymore. He’s a teen who’s in remission, but life still feels fragile. The after-effects of treatment have left Jeffrey with an inability to be a great student or to walk without limping.
His parents still worry about him. His older brother, Steven, lost it and took off to Africa to be in a drumming circle and “find himself.” Jeffrey has a little soul searching to do, too, which begins with his escalating anger at Steven, an old friend who is keeping something secret, and a girl who is way out of his league but who thinks he’s cute.
I was really hesitant about reading this “sequel” because I thought that Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie was a beautiful book, and sometimes beautiful books should just be left alone. However, since AFTER EVER AFTER is told from Jeffrey’s perspective many years later, I thought I would give it a shot anyways. Jordan Sonnenblick is a brilliant writer (and his editor, a.k.a. my Scholastic mentor is just as brilliant) so I was pretty sure that he could make this work!
What I love most about Sonnnenblick is that he adds humor when tackling difficult and serious subjects such as cancer. Cancer isn’t something you can usually joke about, but Sonnenblick is able to do this through Jeffrey without having the reader feel all awkward about it. Furthermore, Sonnenblick really puts the reader into Jeffrey’s perspective through his strong narrative voice. I was able to experience everything from Jeffrey’s point of view and I truly sympathized with him when he talked about his childhood and his difficulties growing up as a Kid Who Survived Cancer.
For those looking for more of Jeffrey’s older brother, Steven, this book is not for you. Steven’s story is quite over and it’s Jeffrey’s turn to tell his part of the tale. While I did love Steven’s character, it was great to read Jeffrey’s side of things. Steven does make brief appearances in the story but it is very limited.
Get the tissues ready because this book is a definite tear-jerker just like Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. While I did see the end coming, it did not stop me from tearing up a bit. The only reason that truly stopped me from full out sobbing was the fact that I was reading the book in a very public place. I had to choke back the tears and suck it up.
Overall, AFTER EVER AFTER was a touching, inspiring, and funny book. It will make you laugh, and it will definitely make you cry. Sonnenblick is definitely one of my favorite middle grade authors.