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Before and After

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  532 ratings  ·  62 reviews
The New York Times Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book
Carolyn and Ben Reiser moved to Hyland, New Hampshire with their two children for the comforts of rural life. But when the local police chief comes looking for their seventeen-year-old son Jacob to question him about the brutal murder of his girlfriend, the Reisers' lives begin to unravel.
A compelling story that...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by St. Martins Press-3pl (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

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I loved the movie, and usually if I love the movie, I love the book even more. NOT so with this book. I picked it up at a paperback sale and it was like swimming through lava to get through it. It just dragged on and on and on and on. The different POV were interesting (although I don't get why Ben was written in first person and Judith and Carolyn in second person) and I am sure that the scattered train of thought of the parents was meant to accurately portray just how scattered any parents wou...more
This is a pretty interesting read. It's a novel about a teenage boy who murders his girlfriend. It follows the entire family through the experience. Each chapter is written from a different family member's perspective. It was assigned as a book to read for one of my classes, where the intent was to diagnose and/or explain the behaviors of the family based on what I knew about abnormal development and mental health disorders. From that perspective it was a really interesting read!
Jacque Roller
Great book on the challenges and and resilience of a family tragedy. Gives each members stuggle dealing with their high profile after the son accidentally/impulsively kills his girlfriend in a small town.
I read this book again after reading it perhaps 15 years or more ago. I still found it fascinating. A teenager kills his girlfriend -- we know that right from the beginning. But then what? What happens in his family between him and his parents, between his mom and his dad? And what about his younger sister? Questions of loyalty, responsibility, moral courage, all of these figure prominently in the book. How do we reconcile behavior of our loved ones with society's expectations? What should we do...more
A powerful concept: an event that is so cataclysmic that it divides your life forever into "before and after."
Ashley Childress
I could not get myself to like this book, and I couldn't understand how or why it ended up as a New York Times Bestseller. It was not very fluid, and the story was underdeveloped with way too many frivolous details. The character of Ben (the father) was so wildly unrealistic and ridiculous. I have never met a father who acted like Ben did. It felt like there were two mother characters rather than mother and father.

The author mimicked Jodi Picoult's style in a lot of ways which was successful at...more
Aug 12, 2014 Louise rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: cd
Compelling is a good word to describe this book. I originally read it several years ago and thought it would be a good book to listen to. I was not mistaken. My biggest problem was having seen the movie, I envisioned Meryl Streep and Liam Neesen as the main characters and I am biased toward both of them. They nailed the people they played. This was one of those books worth sitting in the garage to listen to. As an audio book, it gets an 8 on my 10 scale. Now, I have to watch the movie again.
A welcome twist to the crime novel.

The setting is small town New Hampshire. The secret girlfriend of high school student Jacob Reiser is found dead in the snow and all of the clues point to Jacob.

Before and After is a crime novel with a big twist. Rather than following a policeman or the fleeing criminal, it follows the family of the accused and what they go through. The book's title refers to life before and after the crime and how the seemingly perfect family is ripped apart.

It is told in t...more
I'll admit it. I'm a bit of a book snob. I don't generally pick up books just because they've been on the New York Times Bestseller list; I don't normally go for the books that have that smooth cover art that reminds me of Dan Brown's empire of "history"-thrillers or any given murder mystery. It's not that I don't think those books will be enjoyable, I'm sure they are. It's just that when I look for books to read, I'm looking at writing style. I'm looking for authors that have something new to t...more
Jennifer Archer
If I could give this 4 1/2 stars, I would. I was totally hooked into this story and loved it, until the final, wrap-up chapters. The resolution to all the built-up intrigue was told mostly from the perspective of the teen daughter and after the fact. So she was looking back and telling how it all worked out. It sort of felt as if the author was hurrying to finish the book because it was already long. So some of the elements I most wanted to see play out, were revealed in a lackluster way. I also...more
This was a pretty good book, but I think I enjoyed it more than I normally would have because I was just happy to finally have time to read something in its entirety. The story revolves around a teenage boy who (supposedly) accidentally kills his girlfriend in a sudden rage, and the narration moves back and forth between his mom, dad, and younger sister. All three of their lives are destroyed by the event (they live in a small town with plenty of judgment), and they take sides against each other...more
Brittney ♥ Wulff
It was boring. Sorry but you can guess everything that's gonna happen. Not my voice of book, but the back made it seem like it was going to be a great book. I'm disappointed :(
Jun 01, 2014 Kelli marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Excellent so far - can't wait until I can sit & read it!

I had such high wasn't terrible, but not nearly as good as I had hoped....long-winded sections that were quite dull, unlikeable characters one & all. If Jacob were my son, I'd be afraid to turn my back on him if he was in a bad mood. By the same token, I'd feel like locking him in a room for the rest of his life....

Read Defending Jacob rather than this if you haven't read it - similar (the boys even share a name); not dul...more
Sorry, but this book was not for me. It's not the kind of books I usually read, and this one in particular did not convince me either. The only real positive thing I can say about it is that it offers a somewhat original point of view for a story. I at least had not given much thoughts about the families of people involved with the law before. But that's about it. Sorry I couldn't share the amazement so many others seems to have found. My advice is to read the book yourself and see if you are mo...more
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Finally done with this book. And I just found out the other night that it's a movie. It'll be recording on the DVR so that I can do the comparison. To be honest, not a high recommendation on my part. This book can be a little dark and the charaters go against my morals. The after part of the book was the best (which was, of course, the very end of the whole thing). The author wrapped it up pretty well. Now onto highly recommended book by a regular at the Inn....let's see if this one is my style.
Lori Anaple
I loved the point of view of this novel, but found the internal dialogue too much. I get that we need to have a good representation of the motivations from the characters, but there is such a thing as information overload. In fact, toward the end I was just fed up. Overall, it is a worthy read. The character of the father really ticked me off though. I think he is just a plain flat out jerk. And some of the information that comes out is really quite irrelevant in the scheme of the plot.
this was a somewhat strange book. it concerns a father, mother, son and daughter, living in hew hampshire. the teenage son bludgeons his pregnant (but not by him) girlfriend to death. the father tampers with the evidence, and the son disappears. the book is in segments dealing with each of the family members--how they feel, and how it affects them. eventually there are two trials. this is an interesting supposition, showing how people would deal with such a tragedy.
Elsie Klumpner
A very compelling read. A page turner. Quite sad. This story has been rehashed many time in subsequent books and films. This is the best version I have come across.
So far, I'm having a really hard time getting into this book. It seems to drag on and on with no interesting point. Hopefully it gets better...

Ok, I'm done with the book and sad to say, it didn't get better. I started skimming pages towards the end just to finish it and see what happened...which turned out to be nothing great. Sorry, but this is one book on putting on my "do not read again" list.
Such a great promise of an outstanding story(the slow unravel of a middle class family after their son is accused of murder) but it falls so miserably short of it's initial potential that it just winds up pissing you off. The language was chunky and you can feel the writers effort in most sentences. After about page sixty I started scanning 10 pages at a time just to find out what happened.
What a sad, sad story. The writing style is a little clunky, disjointed, and scattered, but she had some fascinating insights into the human psyche, family relationships, and compassion. The author made an interesting choice in allowing the narration to jump between dad, mom, and sister of the accused killer, with the dad being the only one in first person.
Charles M.
Really wanted to like this book; and it could have been a much better read. Story of viewpoint of a family's members of a son's apparent horrific murder of his girlfriend. Unfortunately, we do not know what the alleged culprit thinks about all this until midway in the book; and the ending leaves a rather empty feeling of not knowing enough about the entire story.
Family torn by tragedy. A murder by a teenage boy brings turmoil to this family of a young girl, female doctor and male artist. Mother will not lie for him. Father fabricates a story. Jacob gets set free because of a hung jury. All move to Texas to start fresh. Written from mother, father and Sister Judith's voices. Could not put it down.
I have signed up to take a seminar about childhood from this author in the fall. She does a convincing job, especially with the two teenagers in this book, of getting into the psyches of her characters. The plot of the book required as much: It traces the strain on a family after one of them becomes involved in an accidental murder.
Oct 14, 2012 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: book
What happens when an unspeakable tragedy falls on a family? This is the question that is explored by Brown in this compelling and haunting book. The story is presented from the points of view of three of the family members. We learn what motivates the people and how they try to cope with what has hit them.
I hated it. Way too much boring details that had nothing to do with the plot, which wasn't that great anyway. And the ending was anti-climactic.
I haven't seen it, but I hear the movie is great.
Another hugely disappointing Important Book - I felt she had nothing important to say about the psychology of her characters after putting the reader through all that. I skipped the movie, though it starred the GREAT Meryl Streep, because I found the book so frustrating.
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Rosellen Brown (born May 12, 1939) is an American author, and has been an instructor of English and creative writing at several universities, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Houston. She has won several grants and awards for her work. The 1996 film Before and After was adapted from her novel of the same name.

(from Wikipedia)
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