After the Fall was one of my most anticipated reads for 2017. I love books that deal with real issues, even if they are difficult to get through, and this book definitely was difficult to get through at times, because it was written with such real emotions. It was raw and gripping, and made me cry on more than one occasion.
After the Fall is a great idea of how powerful a young adult contemporary can be, especially when pushing you to face real issues that will stick with you for a long, long time.
Raychel is seventeen, and spends the majority of time with her best friend Matt. While Matt is in love with her, Raychel is oblivious to it. In fact, she only notices Matt’s younger brother, Andrew. Together, the three of them do plenty of things together – hiking, going to parties, you name in. Since Asha and the rest of their friends have gone off to college, the three of them like to stick together, even through life’s harder times.
Raychel is known as a “slut” in high school, especially since one night in a truck with one of the popular guys, which led to him talking. Even though Raychel wasn’t okay with what happened, she went along with it.
Through all this, she is also dealing with the fact that she and her mother are low on money, and Raychel just lost her job, making it difficult for them to afford rent. So Raychel gives her mother some of the money she had saved up for college, assigning her a fate of being stuck in the area until at least the next year, when she can afford community college. The next year, Matt will leave and go to college. And the year after that, Andrew would go.
And Raychel is falling in love with Andrew. The two of them have been spending more and more time together, stealing kisses when they get chances, and having conversations that make their relationship feel like home.
But they haven’t told Matt. They haven’t told anyone.
And tragedy strikes before they get the chance.
This book broke my heart into about a thousand pieces. I guess I really wasn’t expecting what I got when I picked this one up, despite having read the synopsis a bunch of times. I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be a lighthearted contemporary or anything, but I guess I didn’t realize that it was going to make me so sad. But it did. I mean, don’t get me wrong – this book was amazing. Incredible.
After the Fall really tried to deal with a lot of different topics. It dealt with consent, it dealt with first love, it dealt with the whole boy-loves-girl-but-girl-doesn’t-feel-the-same-way idea, it dealt with friends who slowly grow apart, and it dealt with death and tragedy. Because of that, I felt like this book was an emotional mess, and it left me an emotional mess, too. But in a good way, if that makes sense?
Okay, Raychel had a really difficult life. And as the book goes on, life seems to get more and more difficult for her. I mean, when things finally start looking up (the relationship that develops with Matt’s younger brother Andrew), everything just dissolves right in front of her, and then there’s the fallout of that event, which makes everything even harder for her.
The whole secret relationship and tragedy aspect of this book is enough to break your heart and give you all kinds of emotions to deal with, but then you have to look at the part of the book that deals with consent. When Raychel is at a party with Andrew and Matt, the same guy who tried to force himself on Raychel before decides to do it again, even though she was very clear that she wasn’t interested. That was really rough spot to read, and it could really spur a discussion on alcohol abuse and consent (and it should).
The story was told in alternating viewpoints of both Raychel and Matt, and in two sections: “Before the Fall” and “After the Fall.” I’m not going into a lot of detail about these two sections and what they mean, because I refuse to spoil this book (I hadn’t read any reviews or spoilers prior to starting this, which was probably why I was so shocked and sent for a loop when I read it). It made all the difference, because you find out on your own what the tragedy is, and what exactly happens afterward, without even knowing it’s coming. It shocked the hell out of me. And then made me cry. And go to sleep for the night because I was too sad to finish the book until morning.
I did have trouble really getting inside the heads of the characters. While I really liked Andrew, I just felt like something was missing when it came to Matt. I can’t put my finger on exactly what, but things just seemed one sided with him – like his thoughts and feelings were the only things that mattered. I think it just seemed like we got to know Raychel so much more than we got to know Matt…we knew about every aspect of her life, but so much was left out of Matt’s story.
If you want to read an emotionally charged YA contemporary, please don’t miss this one. It has so many important messages in it that it’s worth a read, even if the genre isn’t your usual.
About the Author
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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3 winners will receive a finished copy of AFTER THE FALL, US Only.
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