AFTER THE FALL
By: Kate Hart
Published By: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux
Release Date: Jan. 24, 2017
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon
Goodreads Summary: A YA debut about a teen girl who wrestles with rumors, reputation, and her relationships with two brothers.
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.
First Thought After Finishing: I need one more scene, an epilogue, something!
This book is messy, painful, ever shifting, never quite the way you want it to be…life. It’s trying to stay optimistic through challenges but wanting to stay numb because it’s easier. It’s making questionable choices in the name of coping. It’s unsettling, and I still don’t know how I feel about it.
A senior in high school, Raychel is facing an uncertain future. Her single mother is barely making ends meet, meaning her college options are limited. Many of her friends are off at college, meaning she has to reform her life without them. But at least she has Matt, the boy who has been her best friend for forever, and Matt’s family, who offer the home she’s always wanted. Raychel could have had a good year hiking, partying, and being with Matt and his family. But sexual assault, money problems, and an attraction she never planned on turn her year upside down. And when everything changes, what does she do then?
For a while, Rachel was hard to connect with. Her high school experience was so different from mine—a group of friends, experimenting with marijuana and alcohol, attending college parties—but after a while I could see her life in a small college town. And when life is bad and you don’t see it changing, what can you do other than look for a distraction? There were so many emotions that Raychel had to face, and I wish there had been more time spent exploring all of them. Even still, I certainly felt them—her confusion, her anger over circumstances, wanting something that seemed just beyond her grasp, and the need to be loved without strings attached. In addition to the emotional journey, I loved the fact that there was something different to this story than “best friends discover they’ve really been in love all along.”
The one thing that bothered me about this book was how quickly the POVs changed. I liked having both Raychel and Matt’s perspectives, but I felt like the book constantly bounced back and forth, and occasionally I had a hard time keeping track of which person’s perspective I was reading. However, after thinking about it, I realized that there might be a point to it—when you’re growing up and trying to figure everything out, things can change so quickly. And there are always two sides to every story, sometimes even between best friends.
Most Memorable Aspect: This book has one of those scenes that you read, reread, stare at the page for a while like the words will suddenly change, and then keep reading like the next chapter or the next will change things, even though it’s after 2am and you need sleep. Not many books can have that kind of effect.