I’ve never read a Jordan Sonnenblick novel before, but After Ever After sounded like something I’d like. After spending far too many months sitting on my To-Be-Read shelf, I finally found time to read it. I really enjoyed it and would love to read more novels by this talented author.
Thirteen-year old Jeffrey is well known among his peers as “that boy who had cancer.” Back in fourth grade, he missed a lot of school and underwent a lot of difficult treatments, while his classmates made cards for him in school and went to fundraisers to help pay for his treatments. That was all four years ago, and Jeffrey’s cancer hasn’t recurred, but the treatments left some side effects and cognitive challenges that are still difficult to deal with. On top of all that, Jeffrey also worries about all the usual stuff eighth grade boys worry about: passing the new state-mandated tests, figuring out what his best friend is up to, and trying to impress the new girl in school without seeming like a total dork. He’s been through a lot in his young life, but there are still plenty of challenges ahead.
I’ve never read a novel about the after effects of cancer treatment before (I didn’t even realize there were after effects), so that element of the book was fascinating. There’s more to this novel than that aspect, though – it’s a well-written, realistic, even humorous portrait of a young teen’s life. I was worried that it might be depressing (when I told my teen son what it was about, he said, “Oh, that sounds like fun” – insert sarcasm here.) And there are certainly some very sad elements to the book, but it is also uplifting, a story of the ups and downs that occur in every life and the way that life somehow goes on in spite of the bad stuff. I was impressed by the emotional depth of this novel and would definitely like to read more by Sonnenblick.
NOTE: Although this book is officially categorized as a teen book, it is also appropriate and will appeal to middle-schoolers, with its 8th grade protagonist.