by Emily Barth Isler
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 07 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2021
Lerner Publishing Group, Carolrhoda Books ®
"This book is a gift to the culture." —Amy Schumer, writer, actor, and activist
After her brother's death from a congenital heart defect, twelve-year-old Lucy is not prepared to be the new kid at school—especially in a grade full of survivors of a shooting that happened four years ago. Without the shared past that both unites and divides her classmates, Lucy feels isolated and unable to share her family's own loss, which is profoundly different from the trauma of her peers.
Lucy clings to her love of math, which provides the absolute answers she craves. But through budding friendships and an after-school mime class, Lucy discovers that while grief can take many shapes and sadness may feel infinite, love is just as powerful.
"This book is a gift to the culture." —Amy Schumer
"Lucy's story of grief and healing packs an emotional punch that will tug at your heart strings long after you've read the last page." —Edith Cohn, author of Spirit's Key and Birdie's Billions
"[T]his novel comes pretty close to perfect in its fearless and compassionate exploration of the sorrows, struggles, and hard-won maturing of a spunky twelve-year-old as she deals with the aftermath of loss."—Judith Viorst, author of The Tenth Good Thing about Barney
"AfterMath is gorgeously written, infinitely heart-wrenching, and tragically timely. Lucy's voice is powerful and distinct. I loved this novel." —Leslie Margolis, author of Ghosted, We Are Party People, and the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 55 members
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.
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.
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.
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.
After her five-year-old brother Theo's death from a genetic heart defect, math-loving Lucy Rothman and her parents are looking for a new start. But the town they move into is definitely not an escape from tragedy-- in fact, it's the opposite. Four years ago, 27 people were killed in a shooting at the elementary school, and now Lucy has to go to a new school where every other student was present for that trauma. Even Lucy's new bedroom used to belong to a third-grade girl lost to the shooting. Everyone in Queensland, Virginia knew someone who died that day, but Lucy doesn't want to bring up her own loss to any of them. Enter Mr. Jackson, Lucy's math teacher, who starts an after-school mime class, and Avery, a classmate who is largely ostracized because her half-brother had been the shooter. Mime encourages Lucy, Avery and the rest of the group to express their feelings without using words, but Lucy still wishes her parents would use their words around her and try to acknowledge Theo more. Avery was definitely my favorite character. She reminded me a lot of the protagonist from the similarly titled "Aftermath" by Kelley Armstrong, but really into fashion and makeup and changing her signature look every so often. She wasn't close to her brother, but still gets treated like a reminder of the shooting, and I really liked seeing Lucy make friends with her and assure her that she didn't deserve any of it. If you liked "The Shape of Thunder," please read this book.
Twelve year old Lucy and her parents are mourning the death of her little brother who died from a heart defect. Her parents thought moving to a town healing from a recent school shooting would help them better fit in because their neighbors would understand their loss. This is exceptionally hard on Lucy who struggles to fit in and keeps her brother Theo’s death a secret. Her mom throws herself into therapy sessions and heart defect organizations to occupy her time, but her father is withdrawn and barely engages with the family. Lucy’s kind and dynamic teacher draws her into an after school miming club he advises which allows him to strengthen his relationship with her, helps her express her grief in a safe outlet, and creates some friendships although she is hesitant to call them that. Avery, the stepsister of the shooter responsible for the deaths and injuries affecting many of their classmates, is shunned by her peers. Lucy is warned to avoid her, but people hesitate to tell her why. Lucy befriends Avery and the relationship is life-altering for both of them. I loved seeing the trust build, witnessing baby steps of the characters in healing from their losses, and the way Lucy’s love of math was interwoven throughout the book, especially the concept of infinity. I was very touched by this book and its message of forgiveness and trust.
I received a free e-ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is an amazingly heartbreaking story about kids dealing with death and loss, how a family deals with the death of a child, and essentially the aftermath of a school shooting that reverberates years after the final bullet is shot. The story starts out with a 7th grader named Lucy who moves into a house where a girl named Bette lived, who died in a school shooting four years previous. Lucy is the first new kid to attend any Queensland school because of the shooting so her classmates are the kids that were in third grade when it happened. They introduce themselves by telling her where they were during the shooting and who they lost. At the same time Lucy reflects on her brother Theo’s death from a rare heart disease. She starts sitting at a table with a girl named Avery who everyone else avoids, but Lucy befriends her. Lucy also decides to join a mime class after school which turns out to be a way for her to escape. She doesn’t think about math equations—she loves math—or the death and loss that surrounds her and her classmates. The mime class becomes a safe space for them all. This story is about coping with loss, but also about learning to heal from the wounds of losing friends and family. I really enjoyed the writing style and the overall storytelling.
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.
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.
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.
This is one of the best middle grade books that I've read in a long time, but it hurts my heart that it needed to be written in the first place. The book follows seventh grader Lucy, whose little brother just died from a congenital heart defect. Her parents, looking for a fresh start, move to a town devastated by a school shooting five years earlier. Lucy's new classmates are the survivors. I've never read a middle grade book that dealt with grief and trauma so well. The characters all cope with their traumas in different ways, and it helps kids understand that everyone grieves differently. It also has a really poignant lesson about gun violence, and it breaks my heart that so many kids will be able to relate to the shooting survivors. Overall, this was an amazing middle grade read. It does handle some very mature and emotional content, so be sure to discuss with young readers in advance and be careful recommending this book to those who aren't emotionally ready for it.
AfterMath is a well-written book on grief in its many forms. A young girl, Lucy, and her parents move to Virginia from Maryland after her younger brother dies from a rare heart disease. Her parents justify the move as an easier commute for them, but Lucy, who loses her friends, believes it is an attempt to escape pain. They are trying their best to heal from the loss of their child. Lucy ends up in a middle school where most of the students are survivors of a grade school mass killing. It is a tough adjustment all around. I found it very easy to relate to Lucy’s need to protect herself and her heart. More importantly, my middle school granddaughter easily put herself in Lucy’s shoes too. While we didn’t experience the loss of a sibling, we have experienced devastating loss of close family members. AfterMath flows at a steady pace that grows as Lucy faces some challenges and a betrayal. Lucy’s inner dialogue and use of math principles to explain her struggle, is effective in putting the reader in Lucy’s head. Her pain and her parents’ attitudes are heartbreaking at times. "A square is a regular quadrilateral, which means that is has four equal sides and four equal angles. What happens when one side is gone? Is it still a square? No. If a family has four members, and one is gone, are we still a family?" This an excellent book for teens and adults. My granddaughter and I listened to the story with the e-book to read along. The audio book is performed by the author, Emily Barth Isler. She does an excellent job performing a story that must be near and dear to her heart. There are some political messages, but they are subtle. I'm not a fan of authors who hit the reader over the head with their political beliefs, whether I agree with them or not. AfterMath is an excellent book to read and/or listen if you or your family has experienced loss or to help initiate discussions about personal loss with family members. I recommend the book for teens and adults alike. If you are an audiobook fan, this is a must listen. We both rate it 5 Stars.
Aftermath is an extremely powerful and deep story. As the synopsis explains, we are following Lucy as she struggles to come to terms over her brother’s death surrounded by children who have suffered their own loss and trauma. Isler does a phenomenal job of portraying the confusing emotions all of these kids have in the face of their trauma and loss. This is particularly evident in Lucy’s character, as this story is told in her perspective. Lucy is very observant and she watches her parents struggling to come to terms with Theo’s death, and how they have failed to help her come to terms with it as well. Her mother is constantly changing furniture and other things in their new home to make a fresh start, and her father has become extremely reserved in his actions and words. They are both trying to ignore their loss instead of working through it together, and we see how terribly this affects Lucy. My heart broke over and over again while I read the scenes with her parents and how Lucy no longer feels she fits in with their equation, trying to piece together the rounded shapes from before Theo’s death and the hard-edged shapes she sees now. She uses math as a coping mechanism because every problem has a definitive answer she can solve for, and she sees her relationship with her parents as shapes that can’t overlap or equations that do not equal each other. It broke my heart that this twelve-year-old girl is using math as a coping mechanism because her parents are so warped by their grief that they can’t see how much Lucy is suffering herself. Isler has a lot of powerful messages in this story, but this is by far the most important in my opinion: loss effects everyone, even children. As parents/adults, it is important to realize this and make sure they are able to work through their grief with someone and be able to talk about it. Pretending that it never happened can cause more pain and confusion, especially when they don’t fully understand the “why” of everything. As if struggling with her parents isn’t enough, Lucy’s family moves to a place where a massive school shooting happened four years ago and around 25 kids were killed. Everyone Lucy meets at school was close to someone that died. Lucy feels that she can’t talk about her own loss with anyone because it’s not the same. These kids all suffered through a traumatic event together and Lucy is the outsider who can never understand their loss because hers isn’t the same as theirs. “X does not equal Y,” as Lucy says. Unable to share her own grief or completely understand her classmates’ grief, Lucy feels all the more alone. And my heart continues to break. Isler does a fantastic job at expressing the trauma of the kids that survived the shooting as well. At first, I found it unrealistic that these kids would introduce themselves to Lucy and explain where they were or who they lost during the shooting. But then I got to thinking, they were only 7 or 8 years old when it happened. They’ve spent the last four years going to therapy to talk about what happened to them - talking about it is normal to them because they’re just kids and they’re used to it. While I still don’t think they’d talk about it as much as Isler has them do, it makes sense that they would to some extent. Isler also writes about how these kids have ostracized the sister of the shooter. While it is heartbreaking to see this sister ostracized by association, it also makes sense for kids to do this. They went through something traumatic and they don’t understand why it happened - no one does - but they know this girl is related to the shooter. The shooting was traumatizing so things and people related closely to it are meant to be avoided in their eyes. Obviously this isn’t fair to the sister because she barely knew her brother, but again, I can understand why these kids do this. It’s even likely their parents don’t want their kids associating with her either. There are other subtle details that Isler adds to the story and characters to represent their ongoing struggle to cope, and I think Isler does a great job with all of it. Aftermath is Isler’s debut novel. Let me tell you, her writing is remarkable. Some debut novels I’ve read, there’s usually something about the writing or flow of the story that doesn’t seem to fit well, but Isler has it together. She is capable of weaving a sensitive plot topic with good character development, all while having an easy to read - yet beautiful - writing style. All of the characters are written very well, the sensitive topics are approached with respect and thoughtfulness, and the writing is middle grade level yet has some really profound moments. I am really not a math person, but most of these profound moments happen by Lucy making a simile or metaphor of something in her life in math terms. Like hugging a triangle and the “X does not equal Y” from earlier. I just loved Isler’s writing so much and I want her to enlighten me on more topics. I think Aftermath is important and I hope it gets the praise it deserves. I was in high school when the shooting happened at Sandy Hook Elementary. That’s all that was talked about by everyone for weeks. I remember how upset I felt and the tears I saw in my classmates’ eyes as we watched the news and coverage of it in class. I also attended a university that had a shooting in 2007, and even though I was attending ten years afterward, it still lingered on campus and with the professors who had been there at the time. Isler’s story puts these tragedies into a new perspective and reminds us that even though years may pass, something like that never fades away. Seeing it through the eyes of children makes it even more haunting and heartbreaking. This will be posted to my website closer to the release.
This book is awesome. Lucy is a girl who family relocates after her little brother's death. What Lucy is not expecting is to end up in a school in a class with students who experienced a school shooting a few years ago, apparently they might have something loosely in common. But Lucy decides to keep her brother's death a secret until she befriends Avery who turns out to be the sister of the shooter. Can Lucy adapt to the school and this new challenging environment where everyone still seems to be healing? Might Lucy be just this school needs? This book does a great job of mixing emotion and a bit of humor. I loved it. Also, one last note, the teacher in the book is absolutely fantastic-love him. More teachers need to be like him!
Welcome Back! Pretty recently I decided to change how I was reading just a little bit. So typically, I juggle a physical book, a graphic novel or manga, audio book, and maybe a kindle book. However, I decided to change that up a bit! I upgraded my phone a few months ago and honestly, I love reading on it! It allows me to read wherever without bringing my kindle (do not get me wrong I still love my kindle and read on it a lot) but if for example, I am waiting for an appointment I would have my phone with me but maybe not my kindle. So one day I was waiting for something (I honestly forget) and I decided to try a book on my phone! I honestly loved it and ended up reading most of the book on my phone, so while it already sounded like a lot of books to juggle, I decided to add a phone book or phone read to the list. I do not even have to be out of the house to read this one, perhaps I am not feeling well but I have my phone with me on the couch, I might read on my phone for a bit. I really enjoy it and that brings me to my first phone read, Aftermath! SPOILERS AHEAD Lucy is not ready for literally everything in her life to change but her parents are and so Lucy really has no choice. Lucy's little brother recently passed away of a congenital heart defect and now Lucy is not really sure how things are supposed to be. They have been a family of four, living in the same house and same town for almost her whole life. But now, they are moving and not to just anywhere. They are moving to a town, where there was school shooting. Lucy, will attend the school where the shooting happened and be in the same grade as the kids who were there that day and many of them lost classmates or people they cared about. Lucy knows this type of loss is not the same as her brother but she is really unsure what to expect. When the first day of school comes, Lucy learns quickly that she is the first new kid at the school since the shooting (it's been a few years) and everyone is very open about their experiences that day. Lucy is finding it really hard to make any friends, or adjust, and she is not telling anyone about her brother. On top of that her favorite subject and class (math) is suddenly not as concrete as it has always been when the teacher starts talking about the concept of infinity which Lucy does not get at all. Outside of school, things are anything but normal at home, she does not have her friends from back home and things with her parents are weird. They do not really talk about her brother and her mom is buying tons of stuff for the new house. Also Lucy quickly finds out her room belonged to one of the girl's who died in the shooting. On top of all of that someone is leaving math jokes in Lucy's room. Can things look up for Lucy in this new town? Can she open up to her parent's about her struggles with her brother's death? With her new school? With her favorite subject? When I started this book on my phone while waiting for my appt, I was honestly unsure what it was about and if I would really enjoy it. However, when my appt time came and went I found myself just wanting to read more of the story and find out what happens to Lucy. Lucy and honestly all of her classmates and the town's story were heartbreaking but I enjoyed my time with this story. This book covers a lot of deep and hard hitting topics but it is done very gracefully and written incredibly well.
I love how the writing gets to do exactly what it meant to deliver. The story is about grief, terminal illness, gun violence, PTSD, OCD and coming of age. The story needs a certain state of mind to read. This is one of those books we do need to read not to enjoy but to understand how the families and friends of such victims try to cope. The characters are quite convincing and realistic. I am so glad to read such a story from the perspective of a much younger character. The character development is outstanding I would say. I do feel middle grade books like this one need to be read by adults so as to try to understand the youngsters much better, specially when it comes to serious inevitable topics like losing a family member, dealing with grief and having someone with terminal illness and how to deal with the rest of the world when and after such unfortunate events happen. I feel the plot was handled quite well and with sensitivity. I appreciate this so much. I was worried if I would get dissatisfied as the story went on. But I didn't need to. I could get to see as exactly as how it happens in real life: the parents and the adults deciding everything by themselves without including the children in question. The progress in the character development and the turn of events in the later half made the story to be such a better one than what I was expecting. It ended well. The characters and the events that occurred in the story gave me so much. Thank you, author and the publisher, for the advance reading copy.
AfterMath is a glimpse into the post-school shooting world that so many schools have had to inhabit in our modern times. The main character, Lucy, is no stranger to loss, after the tragic death of her own brother to cancer. The thing that makes this book stand out is not just the way the characters handle such varied types of grief, but the way that the sister of the school shooter deals with her connection; she las lost her brother, but he is also to blame for the deaths of so many who have family surrounding her at school every day. The relationship between Lucy and the other characters, in their various roles make this a compelling read. As a staff member of a school that has dealt with gun violence, I found this to be a cathartic and well-written read. It was fair-minded and recognized what happens after the cameras and the media leave, and how the people left behind face the world, each other and themselves.
The whole time reading through this book, I couldn't help but think about the kids of Columbine, Parkland, and of countless other school shootings the U.S. has suffered through. I liked this book because it's raw and doesn't hold back on what the aftermath of a school shooting looks like. I also liked this book for its depiction of what a grieving family looks like and the necessity of mental health.