Summary - CJ has been banished to the country to live with his grandparents.
His attempt to fade into the background at his new school is thwarted when Luke Bennett, a boy suffering from a brain injury, befriends him.
Here he learns that no matter how hard you try to run from the past it is always right there in front of you, waiting.
Review - After depicts an Australian country town in all their glory and idiosyncrasies. Following city boy, Callum’s introduction into the unwelcoming arms of his alien grandparents and townspeople who are generally unreceptive, Callum’s environment matches the turmoil that swirls within him. He’s a conflicted character that welcomes that rejection, feeling he deserves it. His self worth is so damaged that he even turns against those willing to befriend him. Callum’s past, largely unknown to him, slowly unravels propelling him towards the inevitable – coming to terms with who he is and what he’s done.
Callum’s hostile, wounded and undeniably fractured by events in his past. It’s with his interactions with his grandfather and the recently disabled, Luke Bennett, that his walls begin to dismantle. Luke is a particularly strong character, made so by Lawson’s sensitivity and generosity with this character that makes Callum’s evolution genuinely effective and authentic. Also interesting is the contrast between Callum and the novel’s antagonist, Jack Frewer. In Jack, Callum is presented a mirror into his previous life and the bad choices he made. Most curious is Callum’s inability to comprehend that he’s no longer that guy anymore.
After is a powerful telling of redemption under the glaring spotlight of a rural community. The characters are wonderfully familiar and yet surprising, the relationships continually evolving and the plot developments unexpected. Lawson has written a moving novel that speaks to the Australian teen experience. After draws the reader into a place of great history, tradition and familial expectation. Familiar and intriguing while running the gamut of intrigue, Lawson has created a tale that will move every reader.
Published: August 2009
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: black dog books
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