Just … wow.
I’ve never read anything quite like this before. It was cool and unexpected. It’s a second person narrator – Grace is speaking to her husband – which means that sometimes the “you” and “I” throws me for a loop. I have to take a step back and re-establish who is the “you” and who is the “I” and then I’m good.
It’s kind of hard to talk about this book without introducing some major spoilers, so here we go. Grace, our narrator, and her daughter, Jenny, are critically injured in a fire/explosion at a school. The story takes place after the fire, and the two of them are in the hospital, outside of their bodies, observing their family and others who are involved in what turns out to be arson. They hear the lies people tell, the cover-ups, the secrets people hold inside, but they’re unable to tell anyone because their bodies are unconscious, unable to communicate.
OK, yeah, it’s weird, it doesn’t make much sense, and there’s a lot of questions you should probably be asking. Are they spirits? Ghosts? Can they walk through walls? (They can travel in cars). But if you ignore all that, it’s kind of a cool idea. Anyone who has had a loved one in the hospital who has been either in a coma or “under” in some way might be comforted to think that their loved ones can hear when you talk to them.
Like some of the other goodreads reviewers, I kind of had a problem with the “reveal” of the arsonist. It came way out of nowhere, you in no way see it coming, and then it’s like, really, it was THIS PERSON? It’s someone who is under your nose the entire time and only because of that would you be suspicious.
But I liked this book and this writer way too much to really hold any of that stuff against her. This book is haunting and moving and really exceeded my expectations. I am going to definitely read her other book, Sister, as that one seems to have gotten better reviews than Afterwards.