Teresa's Reviews > After Ever After

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick
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Apr 03, 12

bookshelves: ya, realistic-fiction
Read in January, 2011

A window into the world of two eighth-grade cancer survivors who are best friends. One, Jeff, the narrator, is pretty upbeat as he deals with a first girlfriend and a chemo-induced math disability. which is looming larger than ever: he'll have to pass a state-wide test to be able to go to high school. Jeff is also dealing with the fact that his older brother Steven, on whom he has always relied for support, has suddenly gone to Africa to study drumming, leaving his long-time girlfriend behind. Has Steven flipped out after holding things together for his brother's sake for too long?

Jeff's BF Tad is more bitter, but he's had cancer twice and was left more disabled--he's in a wheelchair. The two have made a pact: Tad will tutor Jeff in math so he can go to high school, and Jeff will help Tad do PT so he can walk across the stage to graduate. Of course, their plans get more complex and convoluted as the crunch time approaches, with some surprising developments (and some not so surprising).

This all sounds pretty grim, but it's not. Sonnenblick describes these two friends, who have gone through so much, as unsentimental and smart-alecky teens. In fact, they hate the "Awww" factor that cancer causes in their peers. They just want to be like everyone else. And in most ways, they are. Their exghanges (IM's, conversations, etc.) made me laugh out loud at times. Jeff's descriptions of his crush on a new student, and their developing relationship, will ring true to most kids. The testing pressures and parental expectations are universal.

Teens will find much to think about here, and it may make them look at their "disabled" peers differently. But ultimately, they'll enjoy this tale of a deep friendship.

PS Sonnenblick's earlier book, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie, tells the story of Jeff's diagnosis and treatment from older brother Steven's POV.
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