Title: After the Fall
Author: Kate Hart
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Age Group: Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn't want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.
"My life is the most immaculate mess you've ever seen."
I'm a huge fan of character-driven independent films. Do you know the ones? Where seemingly not much happens but we get to delve so deep into the lives of the various actors that you start to assimilate your own character traits -- or even distinguish your own character traits -- to the ones on the screen? That's how this book felt to me. It's a character-dominated story where not much seems to happen but so much is going on beneath the surface and even, within their own worlds. Plus, Kate Hart has a great ability of making you feel exactly what these characters are thinking, feeling, and projecting (or even, holding in) that I felt welcome along on the ride.
After the Fall is told from two points of view: Raychel and Matt. I have to be a bit honest, sometimes I got lost on whose point of view it was but I think this was just a matter of the chapters being presented in very short spurts versus the characters having distinct voices. Because damn, can you feel the angst coming from them two.
Raychel was a character who I felt deeply for. She's a girl who comes from a broken home. Her mother barely makes much to sustain the two which makes Raychel uneasy with her home life. The only saving grace seems to come in the form of the Richardsons. Matt and Andrew and Mr. and Mrs. Richardson. They are the family who have been like a second home to her but things become a little complicated when Matt (her childhood best friend) thinks he might be in love with her, and Andrew (the youngest), might become an actual love interest.
That sets the stage for a wonderful, poignant coming-of-age story, where the innocence of childhood completely fades away, as Raychel experiences a situation that in short, is sexual assault.** When she experiences a couple of incidences that are more that she can handle, especially since they are mixed with niceties, it sets a sort of domino effect of actions that determines the fates of all involved. Especially when she feels like she can't talk to anyone and when she finally does, everyone seems to divulge their own opinions.
The BEST part of this book was its ability to touch upon how people make us feel differently about life and challenge our perspectives. How someone, in just a word or a touch can make us react and think and we like it, while others can place us in a sour mood or completely destroy us and we completely hate it or want to shut down - even if they are saying the same thing.
I was sad, happy, angry, and just a gamut of emotions as I read this one but I couldn't put it down. There's so much that could be spoiled if I reviewed even further but I will just leave you with this - After the Fall is not to be missed if you enjoy contemporary, character-focused narrative, and stories that don't end so nice and tightly - just as real life rarely does!
Thank you so much to the publisher for providing us with a copy and thanks to them, you can enter to win a copy of your own! Good luck to all! Hope you like this one as much as I did.
**For sensitive readers, please note this book does contain situations of sexual assault/rape.
After studying Spanish and history at a small liberal arts school, Kate Hart taught young people their ABCs, wrote grants for grownups with disabilities, and now builds treehouses for people of all ages. Her debut YA novel, AFTER THE FALL, is coming January 2017 from FSG. She also contributes to YA Highway, hosts the Badass Ladies You Should Know series, and will soon sell inappropriate handicrafts at The Badasserie. Kate is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, and owns a treehouse-building business in northwest Arkansas, where she resides with her family.
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