Cover Image: Here in the After

Here in the After

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Member Reviews

‘It was so quiet, so very, very quiet.’

Anna, aged 62, is the sole survivor of a terrorist attack in Sydney. Eleven others were murdered.  Nat, aged 35, is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. Both are suffering because of their experiences; both have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Once Anna is well enough to leave hospital, she retreats into herself, into her home as a fortress. Anna is widowed with adult children and while they try to help her, the only comfort she can find is with her young grandson. Nat’s wife Gen is worried about him. He has outbursts of anger which he cannot explain. Why can’t he tell her what is worrying him?

Nat’s initial approach to Anna is rebuffed: she thinks he is just another person who does not understand what she has been though. But a chance meeting on the beach leads to a tentative friendship. And as their friendship builds, Nat takes what he believes is a terrible risk: he tells Anna his story. There is more to the story than this as you will find if you read it for yourself.

‘They told us we were going over to stamp out terrorism and keep Australia safe ... and ... well, we didn’t.’

Reading this novel barely weeks after the US and its allies have withdrawn from Afghanistan, leaving the country once again in the hands of the Taliban makes this an even more uncomfortable read. Ms Frith’s novel takes us beyond the impact of terrorist acts on the individuals concerned into an appreciation of the concomitant impact on their loved ones. Anna’s family feel helpless, as does Nat’s wife. Anna and Nat (eventually) can talk to each other because their shared experience gives them understanding. Words are sometimes not enough.

There is no happy ever after ending here but there is hope that with the right support the future will be more comfortable for both Anna and Nat and their families. 

I was deeply moved by this story and after finishing my review copy, bought a copy for myself. This is Ms Frith’s first novel, and I recommend it highly.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Two victims of traumatic experience, Anna 62 yo & Nat 35 yo who bonded into unlikely friendship which both of them hide it from their family.
Anna was an only survivor of hostage terrorism act and Nat is an Afghan war veteran.
Both of them suffers PTSD from a traumatic experience that it's hard to be unseen and forgotten. Nat is the one initiated contact to Anna, as he feels that he needs to apologise of their failure during their time in Afghan and making this terrorism act happened in Australia. 

This book also takes me to reality that PTSD not just also about the victims, but also their circle of family. 
It's kind of timely read for me too given that lately US and allied withdrawn their forces from Afghanistan after 20 years and leave the country back to Taliban, left me wondering if everything was worthy.

"Extraordinary story of healing and hope"
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