I have not reviewed a book in a very long time. Two days ago, coming back from a retreat, I found a review book in my mailbox. I rarely receive them anymore, and even more rarely review them. However, this book impressed me because it stood out.

by Sarah Darer Littman

The Amazon description:

After a terrorist attack kills Dani’s aunt and unborn cousin, life in Argentina—private school, a boyfriend, a loving family—crumbles quickly. In order to escape a country that is sinking under their feet, Dani and her family move to the United States. It’s supposed to be a fresh start, but when you’re living in a cramped apartment and going to high school where all the classes are in another language—and not everyone is friendly—life in America is not all it’s cracked up to be. Dani misses her old friends, her life, Before.

But then Dani meets a boy named Jon, who isn’t like all the other students. Through him, she becomes friends with Jessica, one of the popular girls, who is harboring a secret of her own. And then there’s Brian, the boy who makes Dani’s pulse race. In her new life, the one After, Dani learns how to heal and forgive. She finds the courage to say goodbye and allows herself to love and be loved again.

I thouroughly enjoyed myself while reading this book. I don’t know much Spanish, nor do I know much about Argentina. This book informed me about the political unrest in the country as well as about the Jewish population. Littman portrays the feelings of a recent immigrant to the United States astonishingly well. The conflict seemed real and not necessarily tied up in a pretty red bow at the end. The duality of most of the characters added to the depth of the book. This is a good middle grade/ younger YA book because of the variety of people – just like in my high school. Life After will pull readers into its pages in a quiet way until readers feel the characters are friends.

I think that, seeing as Dani is in high school, this book is meant for high school students. However, the writing level aimed more at 6th through 8th graders rather than high schoolers. Additionally, and this is not limited to just Life After, but the IM conversations always detract from the quality of a book.

Overall, I would recommend this book. I think Life After is an informative and deep book. The characters, at least to me, were very life-like, and reminded me somewhat scarily of people in my life. When an author is able to do that, I know the author is talented.

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