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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