Caroline’s brother, Dylan was kidnapped when she was supposed to be watching him. He is gone for a few horrifying days before he is found, alive and apparently unharmed. With him in the kidnapper’s apartment is Ethan Jorgensen, a boy who was kidnapped four years ago, and was presumed dead.
Caroline is elated to have found Dylan but when her brother is having trouble sleeping, and can’t adjust to life back at home, she wants to find out what happened to him while he was kidnapped. After all, Dylan has nonverbal autism, and can’t speak for himself, and if she had been watching him that day like she was supposed to be doing, he wouldn’t have been taken. Her parents, though, seem happy with pretending nothing happened to Dylan at all. The only place she thinks she can find answers on how to help her brother is with Ethan Jorgensen. And maybe Caroline is the friend that Ethan needs, all along.
This book was a beautifully heartbreaking read. It made me cry AND laugh, and approached difficult subjects head on. Afterward did not only talk about trauma and what it is like for people experiencing it, it talked about the less ‘exciting’ part; the fragile journey of learning to heal. Caroline and Ethan were beautifully written characters, each with their own flaws and talents. They didn’t feel forced, and their relationship especially felt so natural and perfectly flawed. I especially admired the fact that although at some parts their relationship escalated into romance, the author chooses to value their friendship above anything else, and keeps it that way throughout, despite the old ‘they fell in love in the end’ story.
Afterward gets a 10/10. This book encompasses the worst and the best of human nature, but most of all, the messy parts in between. This book portrayed life in all of its awkward glory, and the cover is both aesthetically pleasing, and meaningful. I loved it, and would recommend it to anyone that can stomach a few mature subjects.