Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman

I have to start this review by admitting my true shallow nature- I am a cover girl.  Yes, I judge many a book by its cover.  So when I opened an envelope from Scholastic and Sarah Darer Littman’s Life, After fell out, I was immediately smitten. Is this not the most beautiful cover you have ever seen? I wish I could hang a print of it on my wall!  Even better is the fact that the story between the covers lives up to the artwork.  This is a quiet story that left me thinking long after I read the last page.

Dani lives in Argentina with her mother, father, and younger sister.  Ever since a terrorist attack killed her pregnant aunt, life has been different.  Her father loses his business and he shuts down emotionally and mentally.  The national crisis has caused chaos and both Dani’s best friend and boyfriend have moved out of the country.  When it is time for Dani’s family to do the same, her life is turned upside down.  What is supposed to be a new beginning feels like the end when the family is stuck in a tiny, cramped apartment, Mom is working night and day, Dad has completely shut down, and your new school is the opposite of everything you thought it would be.  Dani misses her old life.  Her life before.  But as time goes on and she connects with what she assumes is the meanest girl at school, Dani realizes that life, after, might not be so bad after all.

Sarah Darer Littman packs a whole lot of power into one story.  Dani deals with terrorism, immigration, cliques, Asperger’s, depression, family, death, life, siblings, friendship, Judaism, Argentinian history and politics, and more.  It sounds impossible, but LIttman deals with each theme gracefully and beautifully.  One thing I really enjoyed about this book was that the background information was so unfamiliar to me.  Dani lives in Argentina during the present-day, but I know very little about Argentinian politics (outside of Eva Peron).  But I do know too much about 9/11 and Littman does a brilliant job of bringing both experiences together in a way that is accessible to young readers.

While I believe this is a book aimed at the YA crowd, I won’t hesitate to recommend it to my 6th graders.  It’s an outstanding book that is both heartwarming and touching, while also thought-provoking.  This is a dynamic novel that you have to wait to read as it isn’t available until July.  However, put this one on your must-read list because I think you will hear a lot about it in the coming months!

*ARC provided by publisher

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5 Responses

  1. I adored this book too, and I confess I also fell in love with the cover first. I really hope this book becomes a success!

  2. I’m a cover girl, too!
    I have this one on my shelf – I’m glad to hear the inside lives up to the outside. ;)

  3. I don’t comment much, but wanted to say thanks for all the great recommendations! I just finished The Hunger Games and Catching Fire – loved them!! Needless to say, I’ve preorderd the next one!

    My to-read list is getting longer and longer, but hopefully I’ll be able to catch up quite a bit this summer.

  4. Thank you for the wonderful review! You’ve just given me a great idea – I think I’m going to get the cover blown up into a poster size and frame it for my writing lair, because I love it so much too. And because you gave me the idea, I will have to send a poster to you, so send me your snail mail address and as soon as I get it done I’ll get one in the post to you. Becky Terhune did an amazing job designing the cover. Melissa Walker is going to be doing a Cover Story on her blog, where I talk about the original cover idea, which was very different – much darker and not as optimistic. I’m really fortunate that Scholastic listened to the feedback and did a complete rethink. When I saw this cover, I was thrilled, because it really captured the ultimate hopefulness at the core of the book.

  5. […] Review of Life After by Sarah Darer Littman […]

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