I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.
Published by Penguin on August 4, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry-loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her? But with his dad more brutally unpredictable than ever, Tyler knows he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into the chaos. So when violence rocks his world again, will it be Jordyn who shows him the way to a hopeful future? Or after everything, will Tyler have to find it in himself?
Not After Everything is told from the point of view of Tyler, and when I say his point of view, I mean we are getting an unfiltered look in to the brain of a teen boy who is barely holding on. Tyler’s raw and unfiltered voice was distinctive and well written. This is not the idealized teen boy thoughts we hope exist, these are thoughts that are probably closer to the real thing. Other than his father, of course, I really appreciated the adults in his life. I thought it was so interesting that he did have people in his life who wanted to help him, but they didn’t know how. Even his therapist, a character who I loved, couldn’t quite see past the front that Tyler presented to the world. To the reader, of course, it was obvious that he was being abused, but to all of the ‘first responders’ in his life, the pieces never quite came together. His grief and their expectations of how a grieving person behaves, masked his cries for help.
There were many parts of Not After Everything that were difficult to read. Tyler is still suffering deeply after the death of his mother, but his grief is so intertwined with his anger that his emotions finally start to get the better of him. His father’s cruelty seems to be limitless and the uncertainty of living with a violent alcoholic drives every move that Tyler makes. In the middle of all of that pain, his job at the photo studio is an island. Slowly, Tyler’s friendship with Jordyn, brings Tyler closer to the realization that he is worthy of being loved, but it is a painful process. Even as things with Jordyn progress romantically, he still hesitates to completely condemn his father and I could see that perhaps Tyler saw his own deep pain reflected in his dad. The ending is painfully bittersweet, but I thought it was perfect. It would have ruined the story, in my opinion, had it ended any other way. Not After Everything really grabbed my attention and my heart, and while it sometimes hurt to read it, it was ultimately a book full of hope.
The good people at Penguin are allowing me to give away a copy of this fabulous book!
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