The Afterwards

From the acclaimed team behind The Imaginary comes another powerful, poignant, and darkly fantastical story about friendship, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl.

Ember and Ness are best friends, completely inseparable. Ember can’t imagine what life would be without Ness. Until Ness dies, in a most sudden and unexpected way. Ember feels completely empty. How can this even be real?

Then Ember finds a way into the afterworld-a place where the recently dead reside. She knows there must be a way to bring Ness back, so she decides to find it. Because that’s what friends do: rescue each other. But the afterworld holds its own dangers. How far will Ember go to make things the way they were again?

Paired with enchanting illustrations from Emily Gravett, A. F. Harrold’s powerfully woven tale explores the lengths we go to for the people we love.

The Afterwards – A. F. Howard and Emily Gravett

A tragic story that everyone needs at some point in their life. Watching December try to figure out life after the loss of her other half was heartbreaking, but, I believe, a necessary lesson for the middle-grade audience.

The imagery was lovely, where the language was simple (perhaps too simple) when moving the reader between the living world and the afterwards. A wonderful blend for much younger readers who are not quite out of elementary school, but not quite squarely in the realm of middle-grade.

Perhaps the only reason I would not suggest The Afterwards is that an adult leads December to find the afterwards. She is led there, quite literally by the hand, which removes her agency and desire to find her friend after her sudden death. I understand the need for some adult interaction but wish that we’d been left to suffer ever so slightly more to just attempt to get to the emotion of the piece before we got to the fantasy of it.



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