Cover Image: AfterMath

AfterMath

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Member Reviews

Aftermath is a debut Middle Grade novel by Emily Barth Isler.  Wow.  It tackles a lot of serious topics head on.  Grief of the loss of a brother/son, moving to a new school ... which had a school shooting, bullying.  

It has been years, but the location that Lucy's family moves to integrates Lucy with the same grade that had been the target of a mass shooting.  Lucy is dealing with the loss of her brother, but everyone around her was also impacted by loss. 

Lucy is very good at math, but having a difficult time with the concept of infinity.  Her math teacher leads an after school activity and it is a good way to help the students deal with their unique circumstances.

Throughout the book there are math related bad dad jokes that provide a refreshing breath; this works really well with the serious subject matter.

A really great book.  I think it is a book that is very readable, even with the serious content.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher (Carolrhoda Books and Lerner Books) and the author Emily Barth Isler for the opportunity to review the advance copy in exchange for an honest review..

Also shelved under Best of 2021 on my personal bookshelf.
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What an interesting perspective. I’d never thought about what it would have been like for a student to enroll in a school where students had experienced this kind of tragedy-one far too many have had to endure. We never really hear about the months and years after the media buzz subsides. For someone like Lucy, already dealing with the loss of her brother, to question whether her grief is equal to that of her classmates. Then to bring in Avery, the surviving sister of the mass murderer. How often does society blame the family when truly they had no part in it and are dealing with a different kind of unimaginable grief. Well written.
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AfterMath is beautifully written middle grade book about grief and loss that's a wonderful choice for young readers. I was struck by Emily Barth Isler's grappling with the social hierarchies of different forms of grief--a complex topic for any age category, but particularly impressive in this book. It's a devastating reality that a book about school shootings will be so widely understood by today's young readers, but it's for that exact reason that this book deserves a spot in your classroom or home library.
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Holy shish kebab. Do not read this book without tissues, like an entire box of them. Powerful, moving and poignant, Lucy's story will grip you from the first page and keep you firmly in it's grasp until the very end. Lucy's brother, Theo, has recently died of a heart condition. Being in the house was too painful for her parents, so they move to Queensland, where the town is still reeling and healing from a school shooting four years earlier. Lucy isn't thrilled that her new bedroom used to belong to a girl who died in the shooting. She hates that she is surrounded once more by death. But her own tragic loss is overshadowed by the massive loss of the student's she is going to school with who survived the shooting. I couldn't put this book down. It is heart wrenching and beautifully written from Lucy's perspective as she struggles to hold her family and herself together and trying to heal from her own grief. I have so many words but also not nearly enough to perfectly capture this story. I loved that Lucy was a math whiz, but also willing to explore new things such as a mime class. The way she moved through her stages of grief, connected with her new peers and tried to break through to her own grieving parents was a journey through some of my own grief. Every family should read this together. The content may be intense but it is an important read for children who are learning to deal with the darkness in the world.
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Thank you to Netgalley for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.  AfterMath by Emily Barth Isler is a middle grade novel about a young girl named Lucy who moves to a different town after the death of her younger brother.  She finds herself at a school that 4 years ago had a mass shooting leading to many casualties, and a large amount of trauma to the surviving students.  We follow Lucy as she finds a way to overcome her many obstacles due to being at a new school and the intense history of the students, on top of her own trauma.  The writing was refreshingly simple, making it a fast read despite the heavy topics brought up.  Not only did I enjoy the story, I thought the overall message of this book was fantastic, and great for the classroom, kids need to know how important it is to talk about their loss, because although grief can be extremely powerful, love will always win in the end.  Thank you Emily Barth Isler for a much needed story beaming with hope, love, and family!
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The story of a girl who was not in a school shooting. That is what this book is about. Lucy has had a death in her family, but nothing like that her class has experienced. 

But is death different, if it happens differently?

Lucy doesn't have the same trauma as everyone else, but that doesn't mean she is not in mourning as well.

This book is an interesting take on, not so much school shootings, which unfortunately are far too common in the US, but what happens to those who survive? What sort of PTSD do they have. And how to they navigate life?

A shared trauma is an amazing bonding, but also a terror. I can't say that I've ever been in any schools shooting, or any kind of shootings, but last summer, the area I live in was struck by one of the largest firestorms in the state, and a quarter of the people in our county had to evacuated. In all, 945 houses burned. Those who lost homes, and those who did not, are still on edge, still flinch when they smell smoke, or hear a fire engine. We all have a bit of PTSD.  I can't imagine what school shooting survivors would go through, but I can imagine.

But that is not to say that it he whole point of this book. The point, I think, is how we use the sorrow of death to understand what life is about.

Good book. Grabbed me and pulled me in, and I totally related to Lucy, the narrator, the new kid, who wasn't part of the school shooting.

<em> Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.</em>
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I have to start this review by admitting how upset I am that a topic like this is necessary as a middle grade book. Unfortunately, attacks on children in their own schools are a harsh reality for everyone, and whether it has happened to a child or not, it is something that we see often enough on the news that young people may feel concerned, scared, and have questions. Heck, almost every American public school student has had to participate in an active shooter drill during the school day.
With that out of the way, I am happy with this book. It is raw and full of emotion and reminds us that people, both children and adults, are human. One of my favorite parts of this book is the way that the adults struggle to reassure and communicate with the young characters after their tragedies. 
Would I immediately recommend this book to every middle grade child that walks into the library? Honestly, no. I would reserve this for kids with very mature emotions and reading levels. I would happily recommend this to a family who has faced tragedy because of the way the main character handles not only her sadness, but her loneliness and that of her parents. I would sure as heck recommend this book to every adult. All ages can appreciate the way the parents and other adults struggle to handle the aftermath of something so incredibly unimaginable.
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An incredible piece of work.

Twelve year old Lucy has recently moved to Queensland with her parents. With the grief of losing her baby brother still engulfing her, she is not really ready to attend a new school where the students have witnessed a shooting four years back. Lucy and the kids are constantly haunted by their unpleasant memories, yet they seem to be seas apart. Lucy is a math geek who tries to perceive the world in mathematical language, but she finds that not everything fits easily in a practical frame. Life eventually makes her realize that pain can be endless but love too can be so.

In the marvelously penned story, Emily takes us on an emotional journey in the shoes of a traumatized seventh grader. Sprinting through jumbled thoughts, complicated human interactions, and silent struggles, we finally reach a beautiful conclusion that inspires our heart to hold a place for hope.The book also tells us that death does not necessarily mean the end of someone. Loved ones live beyond time and space in our memories, in our thoughts, in our heart. 

The character of Avery holds a special place in my mind. Although the story has been narrated from Lucy’s perspective, the author has done a brilliant job in portraying Avery’s desperation to escape her identity and reality.

I will admit that my attention was not immediately conquered by the book, but things began to work in no time as the story progressed. 

A must read for people of all ages.
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I have loved math since a really long time and the fact that Lucy also loved math and always sought to math for ‘answers’ was really one of the most beautiful thing for me and I love it thoroughly.   This was my first middle grade book and it was honestly very my most favorite for the fact that it covered topics like grief and the loss of a closed one. I loved how the friendship of Lucy and Avery blooms throughout the book and how Lucy’s parents grow. The thing that won my heart was how Lucy’s character grows and how she herself learns to deal with grief.
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Excellent book about loss and grief for a family dealing with the loss of their son and brother Theo, from a heart condition, and a town still coping after a school shooting  Lucy’s parents decide to move after Theo died for a new start and move to the town where the shooting was. Lucy dreads starting at a new school where this happened. On her first day, everyone brings up the shooting because they’ve all gone through this tragedy together. Not knowing where to sit at lunch, she sees a girl by herself and sits at her table. People tell her later not to sit with that girl, Avery. As time passes, Lucy still sits with Lucy, but they don’t talk. Lucy’s family is having a tough time coping with the grief and as time passes her parents admit they haven’t handled the last year very well and have avoided talking about her brother. Lucy and Avery eventually talk and become friends especially when they find they are in an after school mime class.  A secret is exposed about Avery, but Lucy doesn’t care because she still wants to be friends with her. At the end, Lucy finds that memories, friends, and love are like infinity which goes on and on.
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A powerful tale of grief, friendship, and healing. Numbers make sense to Lucy, and equations are her way of keeping things predictable and stable. But soon she sees that there are so many variables ... different ways to grieve, to process it, and to heal. A timely story that will resonate with readers.
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