After the Fall – Kate Hart

What an incredible book! The less you know going into it, the better. I was sold on this book from its initial premise — one girl, two adoring brothers… it’s one of my favourite tropes! And to be honest, the fallout from that situation (Carson, Matt, Andrew, etc.) would have already been enough to make an enriching story. And then all of a sudden, the story progression shattered. And that made this book really stand out.

Synopsis

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.

Review

What an incredible book! The less you know going into it, the better. I was sold on this book from its initial premise — one girl, two adoring brothers… it’s one of my favourite tropes! And to be honest, the fallout from that situation (Carson, Matt, Andrew, etc.) would have already been enough to make an enriching story. And then all of a sudden, the story progression shattered. And that made this book really stand out.

I find that there are usually two types of story progressions: the most basic form is a struggle all the way through the story, that culminates in a happily ever after. Slightly above that, a story can progress with some unsustainable perfection for a while, only for it to fall apart in hundreds of pieces. The rest of the story is then dealing with the fallout, leading to a slightly imperfect but more satisfying end. Think of putting the pieces back together like stained glass. Well, in this case, the story fell apart in millions of pieces. And rather than a stained glass replica, the image wound up looking entirely different. This analogy is getting far too long and crazy, but the point is: I didn’t expect the story to go where it did, and the fall out SUCKED, but I felt an immense sense of catharsis by the end of it all.

Kate Hart definitely thought about all the consequences of her storytelling choices. There’s a conversation between Raychel and her mother, imagining an alternate reality that would’ve left the families something for keeps. I can totally imagine Hart running through this scenario in depth. It would have been fascinating, but an entirely different story altogether.

I loved how The Handmaid’s Tale was used as the “story of reference” for this book. We don’t often get our incredible Canadian authors recognized, and it is one meaningful book!

As it is, this book already covers a lot of issues. Rape. The friend zone. Love triangles. Family. Wealth inequality, and socioeconomic prejudices (because there is always someone beneath you). Subtle racism (the kind that’s too small to deal with). Grief. Substance use and abuse. But I swear, it’s not an after school special.

The sad part is, I really think these two could’ve gotten the ending EVERYONE expected if this brother acted sooner. Raychel already considered it briefly, and only later came to love the fact that a boy seemed to like her platonically. Maybe that’s Carson’s fault. Maybe it’s the other brother’s fault, for taking action sooner. Raychel never expected him to make a move, but was really glad when he did. Would it have been the same if our main man went for it first? There were a million junctures where these two could’ve ended up together, but each one falling out of place led to this completely different result.

Against all odds, I want their families to stay intertwined. My heart ached for Mrs. Richardson. Her reaction — “How could she betray our trust like that?” — was so unexpected but made perfect sense. Everything happened so fast. What if they spoke sooner? What if the discovery didn’t happen there? We can always beat ourselves up over the “what ifs” when accidents happen. But at the end of the day, the thing that matters most is that they happened at all.

Related Reading

  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  • 99 Days – Katie Cotugno
  • How to Love – Katie Cotugno
  • That Boy – Jillian Dodd
  • This Adventure Ends – Emma Mills
  • The Year We Fell Apart – Emily Martin

Rating: 5/5

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s