After Lisa

Fiction - Literary
252 Pages
Reviewed on 12/04/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jennie More for Readers' Favorite

After Lisa by Joe Pace is the story of a young family facing grief after the death of their matriarch, Lisa, who fights against but dies from cancer. Andy, the 38-year-old doting husband and father of two children, a boy of ten and a girl of seven, struggles to cope with her death while facing the immense pressure of keeping his business and home afloat and, most importantly, being the strong and constant father his children eagerly need him to be. After Lisa is not only a story about grief, but at its base, it's a love story of a man who dearly loved his wife, a fairytale that girls dream of when they fantasize about how a man will love and cherish them one day. As the story is about love and grief, it's layered and complex, but fundamentally it's about how love transcends even death.

After Lisa by Joe Pace is a beautifully written, absorbing, contemplative, and introspective story. Pace was intentional with his writing; it's clear that he selected each memory with a purpose to link it to the lesson of each chapter, whether it was a memory of Andy's childhood or his life moments with Lisa. The story flowed, and there was a clear progression in the stages of grief Andy was experiencing, emotions familiar to anyone who has lost someone dear to them. Through this story, Pace makes the loss of a loved one and the turmoil of the grief process almost bearable, feeling hopeful that life, hope, and joy remain, and are still possible after death.

Pikasho Deka

After Lisa by Joe Pace is the story of a recently widowed husband who struggles to navigate life after his wife's passing. Andy Chester is a thirty-eight-year-old man grieving the loss of his beloved wife, Lisa, to breast cancer. Now left on his own to raise his young children, Jay and Emily, ten and seven respectively, Andy is having difficulty getting past his sorrow to attend to his duties as a father and owner of a comic book and gaming store he inherited from Helga Kamisdottir. Helping Andy move on with his life is his alcoholic sister, Nan, an art dealer, and his best friend, Buddy, a free-spirited playboy with an infectious lust for life. But with his reluctance to let go and a disapproving father-in-law, will Andy be able to get his life back on track?

After Lisa is a heartfelt story about loss, grief, and the act of letting go. Joe Pace engages readers with a moving story that depicts the pain and anguish of a man struggling to comprehend the loss of a loved one. Despite the tragic premise of the tale, Pace manages to infuse a lot of humor and heart into the narrative, which makes the book very compelling and entertaining to read. This is primarily a character-driven story, and Pace's characters display a wide range of emotions and vulnerabilities that make them relatable. I was drawn to Andy as a person and found myself rooting for him to get out of his rut. Even secondary characters like Nan, Buddy, the Narwhal, and Mitch make an impact on you every time they are on the page. Overall, it is a beautiful story that I highly recommend to readers of literary fiction.

Ammaarah Seboa

After Lisa by Joe Pace tells the story of how Andy Chester struggles to cope after the death of his wife. Burdened with so much grief and having to take full responsibility for raising their two young children, Andy becomes stuck in his memories of the past. He reflects on his life before Lisa’s death and wonders how it all went wrong. Since she died, it seems as if his life is falling apart and he doesn’t know how to fix it.

This is a raw and emotional story that I feel truly conveys the grief of someone who isn’t ready to let go. No matter how much you prepare for it, death still comes as a shock to you. Joe Pace pulls at your heartstrings in After Lisa, and you can’t help but mourn with Andy. Even though it is Lisa who died, it seems that in the months after her passing, it’s Andy’s life that flashes before our eyes. The memories we see depict key moments in Andy’s life and how each one has molded him into the man he is now, but a man who does not know how to be after Lisa. As we are introduced to influential characters in his life, we can see how they are all helping in Andy’s grieving process, whether he notices it or not. The story unfolds at a moderate pace and it is clear when we are experiencing Andy’s memories as opposed to the present. Pace’s writing leaves no room for confusion and gives us a sense of reality which makes this feel more than a work of fiction.