Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Life After is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama, grief and loss, and coming-of-age subgenres. It is intended for the young adult reading audience but can also be enjoyed by adult readers as it deals with strong themes of death, loss, pain, and grief. Penned by author Genalea Barker, the story follows our protagonist August, who was always happy to blend into the background and let her twin Benny shine in the world of music, dance, and performance. But when tragedy strikes and August has to face the world alone, she spirals into pain like no other, and her future seems to be fading away. So begins a journey to find new strength, come to terms with the past, present, and future, and reimagine a new life for herself without the one person she thought she’d never lose.
Author Genalea Barker plays on a reader’s heartstrings like a harp, slicing sharp notes suddenly into such a beautifully discordant melody in this tale about death, grief, dance, music, and healing after loss. I think these kinds of sophisticated YA reads are so necessary for young minds to be able to experience, whether they’ve suffered grief yet or not. I could easily see this accomplished work being used in classrooms and social groups to help teens relate to August and explore grief and grief-related behaviors so that they can support themselves and others. For me, one of the standout features is the flow and atmosphere of the scenes, which were so enhanced by the cinematic and multisensory description that I really felt like I was there beside August, both in reality and her dreams, and in those grief-addled mind spaces in between. Overall, Life After is a highly recommended read for fans of emotive and well-penned YA about real-life struggles.