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After They Go

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  116 ratings  ·  23 reviews
"...Mercer's prose is lucid and her themes of redemption and reinvention are resonant..." -- Kirkus Reviews

A large family saga set in a coastal tourist town:
One sister chained by family tradition.
The second stunted by her sister's shadow.
The youngest propelled by desperation.

Gwen is the oldest of four children in the Aaldenberg family, and the one who seems to have
Kindle Edition, 341 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Bare Ink
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  116 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Aug 21, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: freebie
💝FREE on Amazon today (8/21/2018)!💝

A large family saga set in a coastal tourist town.
One sister chained by family tradition.
The second stunted by her sister’s shadow.
The youngest propelled by desperation.

Gwen is the oldest of four children in the Aaldenberg family, and the one who seems to have it all. She's also most desperate to escape. Betta, having nursed their dying grandpa for the past three years, is anxious for Gwen to go, so she can finally have reins to the family business. And E
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After They Go encapsulates many aspects of the messiness of life, love, family and friendships. J Mercer gives her characters pieces of the individuals we all know in our lives and you feel like you KNOW them. We all struggle at times with what we should do and want to do and where those two roads intersect. This book shows you how our perception of ourselves can become our reality but how powerful the perception of those we love can give you a new view or the strength to find one. I love how th ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel details the inner workings of a family with a husband, wife, three daughters, and a son. Gwen, the oldest daughter, wants nothing but to leave their small town to live in the city. Betta has always longed to take over the family general store, going so far as to leaving college to return home, caring for her dying grandfather, and waiting for the store to be hers. Ezmerelda is trying to figure out adolescence, high school, boys, mean girls, and how to be her own person. Of course, Van ...more
Oct 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Family drama, anyone?

I am not giving this a low rating. Not going to be cruel to a writer who seems to really make an effort to create good (meaning well defined, not terribly wholesome) characters. I respect character development even more than a fast or engaging plot, which this story totally lacked.

Kudos for making the story exude the stultifying tedium of small town life via a story that seems to go nowhere. Also kudos to a female writer who telegraphs the vindictive and petty nature of sist
Oct 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
I throughly disliked all of the whiny characters in this book.
Florence B Haun
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finding ourselves.

A perfect five for an excellent writer. This book has the perfect balance between love, lust, family and duty. When duty and responsibility clash with hopes and dreams, a step back is often needed to find the right path. Kudos to the writer!
Kelly-Jo Sweeney
This book is a little different to anything that I've read recently. It is the story of a family, mother, father, three sisters and a brother. For the most part, the book focuses on the three sisters. The eldest, Gwen, is desperate for her life to begin, to get away from the small town where she grew up. The middle sister Betta, longs to take over the family business and her role in the small society. The youngest sister, Esmerelda, longs to be popular and fit in with the in-crowd at school. (Pa ...more
C.C. Hrivnak
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know why this reminded me of Big Little Lies. The author wrote these characters in such a complex way, you needed to keep your eye on them all and each event that takes place. Since this is told by multiple perspectives, it can be difficult keeping track especially if you need to put the book down for any reason. Despite all of that, they are woven together in together in the end to make a complete, cohesive story.

The Aaldenberg family is going through financial struggles that bleed into
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"It was fact, that with fewer bodies on the streets, there was a subtle stillness in the air. Just like it was fact, that with fewer people needing her, there was a subtle emptiness in her soul."

A great book that was hard to put down. I'm a sucker for any book that has multiple storylines that weave together. It was easily relatable and I feel a wide range of individuals can see themselves in one of the characters and connect with their stories. Mercer has a beautiful way with words that draws y
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
It sure kept me interested ...would read more from J. Mercer!
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a sucker for quirky, real life characters, so I love J Mercer's writing. Sweeter than a soap opera saga but with enough drama to keep the pages turning, these family members came to life in my head. The love, the competition, the sameness in the differences… they felt so real. Small town, family business, relationships ebbing from distress to peace and back, and individual plot lines masterfully weaved hooked me in. Just like family does, the characters sharpen each other, infuriate each oth ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After They Go was a fast and entertaining book with multiple story lines woven in to one. I enjoyed reading about the lives of each sister and their parents over the course of one year. It is a great book to grab for a vacation or relaxing weekend. Add it to your list, you won't be disappointed!
Laura Warren
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Perfectly Charming

A story of a family, with requisite pettiness and jealousy and forgiveness and loyalty. Brought me to chuckles and ultimately to tears. Beautifully done.
Angelica Bentley
So dull. A depressing story that drags on relentlessly through the most mundane details of the lives of a family who own a hardware store passed down from one generation to the next. I normally avoid spoilers at all costs, but this book really annoyed me.

The author seems to hate women. She has stuffed into this book a remarkable collection of thoroughly unpleasant, petty, vengeful, capricious, selfish, stupid females. The men, by contrast, are doormats who exhibit ridiculous amounts of patience
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine being sat in front of the TV, watching a show with intersecting characters with separate plot lines and knowing that you can't go out of the room to make a cup of tea, because if you do, you will completely lose the thread. This is the book equivalent of that.

It is a little confusing at times, to be honest, because the story is told from so many different points of view, each with a defined path through the narrative that interacts with the others.

That said, once you get into it, what th
Taylor Lancaster
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover art completely drew me in as I started reading After They Go by J Mercer and was something that I kept coming back to in trying to describe her words and how I felt about reading this book; there's this sense of a foreboding, yet rewarding 'calm before the storm,' attribute to the novel while the reader uncovers the deeper layers of the complicated, Aaldenberg family. J Mercer spins another tale with characters that are a bit hard around the edges until you get to know them. Her abilit ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Dark and Stormy by J. Mercer so was excited to read her second book, After They Go. While After They Go seems to be written for a more youthful (teen/young adult) audience, the descriptive language Mercer is so comfortable with creates an even more vivid time and place. Set in a seaside New England vacation town during the off-season when all the tourists are gone, the reality of life for the Aaladenberg family is told with humor and heartache. Three sisters are coming of age as ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What happens when tourists leave a small community at summer’s end? After They Go is one poignant answer to that question. Mercer beautifully expands the significance of the book’s title as members of the Aaldenberg family grapple with the loss of significant people in their lives. Mercer pulls back the curtain to show us the repercussions of those losses. The Aaldenbergs react, change, and ultimately thrive “after they go.” I connected emotionally to the book’s very real characters as they soug ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author shows expert use of language. The narrative is very good, including clever descriptions. I am not a fan of more than two points of view, and this one has several. Just when I got used to being in the head of one character, I was switched to another, so I skimmed for all but two characters until I got to the middle. Glad I stuck with the story because it gets exciting there. My favorite character is the teenager Ez.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three sisters and a brother...a family tradition to keep the hardware store. One sister wanted the store when her parents retired, but it went to older daughter who didn't want it but saw that she needed to get the financials back in shape and then leave the little town. Tells the story of all the family, youngest in high school being bullied, second oldest wanting the store, brother was football star. ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After They Go is an intriguing story about how a family tradition, while supposed to be the foundation they're built on, can actually be the one thing to break them apart. Reading the three sisters' journeys as they navigate life and struggles is fascinating and feels authentic to how sisters fight, bond, and support each other. Great small town setting! Just the perfect amount of romance! ...more
Nancie Lafferty
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Terrific family tale. The characters were well-built and real, and the situation was very believable. I just kept thinking - “Talk to each other!”
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was truly a good read. Fans of Elin Hilderbrand will enjoy it. After they Go travels through a year in the life of the Aaldenburger family, but not just any year. A year in which big changes are afoot. The family business is up for grabs, engagements are made and broken and the family struggles with the joys and trials of living in a small "vacation" town in the winter. We get to experience the struggles of each one of the Aaldenburger women as their own lives diverge and intersect. I love ...more
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Aug 06, 2019
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Elaine McCoy
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J. Mercer grew up in Wisconsin where she walked home from school with her head in a book, filled notebooks with stories in junior high, then went to college for accounting and psychology. She wishes she were an expert linguist, is pretty much a professional with regards to competitive dance hair (bunhawk, anyone?), and enjoys exploring with her husband—though as much as she loves to travel, she’s ...more

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“August September A Year Later 279 305 315 “One of the secrets of life is to be honestly who you are. Who others want you to be, who you used to be, or who you may someday become . . . these are fantasies. To be honestly who you are is to give up your illusions and face today with courage.” – Bill Purdin” 0 likes
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