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Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman

Life, AfterDani has lived in Argentina her whole life. She and her family have survived the death of her aunt in a brutal terrorist attack and nearly all the effects of the Crisis—the economic depression that caused the family business to close, the protests in the streets, having family and friends move away to find a better life elsewhere. But with the situation in Argentina gradually deteriorating, Dani’s family knows they can no longer stay, so they move to America to make a fresh start. For Dani, this transition is extremely difficult. Having school in an entirely different language with people who aren’t entirely friendly is only the half of it. Dani doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere, at school or at home, and more than anything, she misses the way things were Before. But through some unexpected friendships, Dani may find the courage to heal, forgive, and move on.

Life, After is a novel that tackles undoubtedly serious topics, particularly the aftershocks of terrorist attacks, but in a surprisingly innocent and somewhat light way. What I mean to say is that although many characters are confronted by deep grief by the loss of someone close to a terrorist attack, the overall tone of the story isn’t overwhelmingly intense in the way of this pain. The effects of this are that the story never gets too depressing despite its content but also that this story isn’t quite as meaningful as it could be. I love the undercurrent of hope running throughout the entire story, because it makes reading about Dani’s situation bearable. At the same time though, because the most personal effects of terrorist attacks are not the main focus of the story, any larger message regarding that was mostly lost. Life, After is definitely a sweet and hopeful story, accurate in its depictions of Argentinean language and culture and the struggles of immigrants, but unfortunately, it lacked a certain something that will resonate deep with readers beyond just being enjoyable.

Though a lighter read, Life, After will also be enjoyed by fans of Purge, also by Sarah Darer Littman. Those who liked Amor and Summer Secrets by Diana Rodriguez Wallach may also want to check this novel out.

Rating: 3.75

Review copy from publisher Scholastic

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