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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  7,783 ratings  ·  1,213 reviews
The first adult novel in almost fifteen years by the internationally bestselling author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, has had the rug pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly d
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Algonquin Books
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Pamela ciccolini I really enjoyed this book. First time reading this author and the writing style was different but I found it kept me moving through the drama and emo…moreI really enjoyed this book. First time reading this author and the writing style was different but I found it kept me moving through the drama and emotions in a unique way. (less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  7,783 ratings  ·  1,213 reviews

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Angela M
Not long ago I read and was so taken with In the Time of the Butterflies and I was anxious to get to Alvarez’s other novels. I was given the opportunity to read her newest and I couldn’t pass it up. On a personal note, this was not the best book I could have chosen to read at this time, but fortunately there is an abundance of love and kindness and hope on these pages. Also, the fabulous writing helped me focus on reading more than I have been able to this last month. It’s an introspective story ...more
Nilufer Ozmekik
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another beautiful, heartfelt, exhilarating, insightful reading shakes you to the core, makes you question so many things you’ve done with your life.

The author tells us many thought-provoking issues starting from how to gather the pieces of your life after you lost your loved one, dynamics between sisterhood, their complex relationships, learning to put your needs first but also listening to people’s needs and extending your helpful hands, real and heartbreaking issues about undocumented immigr
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Paula by: Publisher
AFTERLIFE is a beautifully written short book about life after losing a loved one.

Antonia Vega is a retired college professor living in rural Vermont who has recently lost her husband Sam. Her husband was a beloved doctor who cared for all whether born locally or the undocumented who have come to work on the farms. It’s interesting that neighbors thought Sam’s affection for immigrants was because his wife is originally from the Dominican Republic. Not true, however, as this was just Sam’s nature
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Antonia lives alone in Vermont. She is a 66 yr old recent widow, she is a retired English professor and writer who had came to the United States from the Dominican Republic as a child. Her husband Sam had been a kind and caring American doctor in the community.
Antonia also is part of a hilarious sisterhood... she has three sisters scattered about the States, all in their 60’s also.. the oldest at present time having some mental health issues.
Also, living next door to Antonia is a farmer who
Diane S ☔
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
How many things can happen in a short period of time? After years teaching English to college students, Antonia has retired. She looks forward to spending time with her husband Sam, but he unexpectedly dies. Soon she will have even more to handle, when a young, pregnant, immigrant girl shows up and her sisters require her services in an intervention for their eldest sister.

Grief, relationships between sisters and immigration. Common enough themes, but Alvarez makes the common something new and d
Elyse  Walters
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written ‘gorgeous writing....with thought-provoking themes on love, loss, the bereaved, immigration, and the undocumented.
Less than 300 pages.

“How does the imagination of the poor age? Perhaps from much practice over the course of a lifetime— always having to imagine a better life— it stays vigorous. At a recent reading at the college, a guest lecturer spoke about the origins of Black English. This rich folk language is what occurred when
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
What a story to lose yourself in. I have been meaning to read Julia Alvarez for some time, In the Time of the Butterflies, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, etc., but I just kept putting it off for some reason. Afterlife has propelled her works back to the front of the TBR pile. So many emotions and deep reflections were packed into this petite novel, I can only imagine what she does with even more pages.

The best thing about this book is the dynamic between Antonia and her sisters. I so r
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
“[Antonia] is finding it increasingly difficult to keep up her faith in people, in herself. In the past when her own stash got this low, there was always [her husband] Sam filling up her cup with his abundant kindness. She has continued to think a lot about the afterlife, especially in the absence of any sign from Sam. What, if anything, does it mean? An afterlife? All she has come up with is that the only way not to let the people she loves die forever is to embody what she loved about them. Ot ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love love love this author and her tender stories. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Antonia Vega is an immigrant writer and recent retiree who loses her husband suddenly. As life often is, more stressful events pile on, and Antonia is more lost than ever. She often turns to books and writing for comfort, but even those aren’t helping her now.

Afterlife is a tiny book full of heart and meaning. Antonia is searching for herself amongst her grief, and she’s also seeking to honor her beloved who typically would be t
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
In Afterlife Antonia Vega’s world changes when her husband Sam dies suddenly, just as she retires from her teaching position as an English professor in rural Vermont. As Antonia attempts to deal with her grief, two of her sisters, Tilly and Mona, reach out for her assistance with coaxing their other sister, Izzy, into seeking help for her erratic and unstable behavior — An increasing worry among the sisters.

Antonia’s neighbor, Roger, employs immigrants to work on his farm, one of whom reaches o
Apr 12, 2020 rated it liked it
The main character in this book is Antonia (Vega) Sawyer, one of four sisters who hailed from the Dominican Republic. She is now in the senior years of her life, having retired just the year before as a teacher. She is trying to grasp her relatively new reality of both being retired and becoming a widow almost virtually at the same time. You see, her husband Sam died while in transit to take Antonia to her celebratory retirement dinner last year. He was a physician, well known for being very kin ...more
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
After suffering the shocking loss of her husband Sam on the day she was retiring, Antonia, almost a year later, is still searching for internal answers to what is waiting in the afterlife or is this the afterlife?
So much of who Sam was, is very much in her thoughts and reactions to what is happening currently. An illegal girl, pregnant, has found a place resistingly in her heart; her sister, Izzy, on her way to celebrate antonia’s bday, is now missing. So much of who she is and how she will be
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A small book with a big heart and deep insights. I found this story to be a journey of self reflection and keen observations which grappled with big questions...what do we owe ourselves and others? And what is the right thing to do?

How much power does Antonia really have? She has lost her husband; her sister is missing. And behind those untimely losses, the timely ones, the whole flank of buffering elders, parents, tias, tios, who have died in the natural progression of things, but still, natura
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent and it’s sequel Yo! are among my all-time favorite books. I reread them both in less than a day when I am in need of a laugh. I have read almost everything that Julia Alvarez has wrote for an adult audience, chuckling out loud when reading her nonfiction Once Upon a Quinceañera and Something to Declare. When I found out that at long last Alvarez had written a new adult fiction book, a smile came to my face. Alvarez has spent the 21st century gearing her cra ...more
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Afterlife is the latest novel by author Julia Alvarez, a favorite writer of mine for many years. This is a beautiful book about not only loss, but loyalty and love and friendship and family. Most importantly, this is a story of how we can come to grips with loss and all of its consequences in one's life, and manage to go on. The Prologue in this unforgettable novel is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking pieces of prose/poetry that I have read, as Antonia repeatedly asks, "Can you please ...more
A story that revolves around family, the bond of sisters, and the pain of loss, along with the stories, and struggles of those who have immigrated to America – both legally and illegally, as well as those people who seem to view ‘real’ Americans as an exclusive club. Love and loss both factor heavily in this story.

Born in the Dominican Republic, Antoinette and her sisters emigrated when they were very young, but many years have passed, and Antoinette, recently retired and widowed, will soon obs
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Sometimes it's okay if the only thing you did today was breathe." (Yumi Sakugawa)

Julia Alvarez wraps us up in the swaddling comfort of refocusing, redirecting, and releasing the weight of life's uncontrollable circumstances. Day by day, and especially as we find ourselves in the grip of a monumental hand-off of a pandemic, not a soul on Earth can feel and react to tragedies and uncertainties in exactly the same way. It is all personal. It is all played from the internal notes of music that only
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ew
A high 4 stars!

Afterlife is a beautifully written novel about grief and how life carries on. Antonia is recently widowed, living by herself in a small town in Vermont. She has three sisters, who live in other parts of the USA. Antonia's instinct is to retreat into her grief, but the outside world intrudes. Her oldest sister, Izzie, who is erratic and impulsive, disappears. At the same time, Antonia finds herself charged with the well-being of a pregnant underage illegal Mexican immigrant. Alvare
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Antonia is a retired literature professor whose husband has just died and she is left to make sense of her life. She has three sisters who are all very close but are a source of drama, and then she gets wrapped up in the lives of some of the undocumented workers living nearby. The very beginning and end are written more poetically but the majority of the middle is more straightforward.

I can't believe I haven't read this author before but I get the sense that she tends to write longish family sag
Jeanette (Again)
It's publication day! This book is now available.

3.5 stars

We women often tend to put other people's needs above our own. Even when we are facing crucial issues in our lives, we will set those issues aside if we think someone else's problems are more pressing. This is exactly what Antonia Vega does in Afterlife. Less than a year ago, her husband Sam died suddenly, and the pain of loss is still raw. She keeps telling herself she is going to make herself number one, but she gets sucked into other p
Anna Luce
★★★✰✰ 3 stars

Afterlife is a slim novel that covers many topical and important issues, like mental health, in a not always satisfactory way. Alvarez's style was at times a detriment to her story. While I could have moved past the lack of quotations, I had a harder time buying into the recursive narration. I sort of understood what Alvarez was going for, trying to render Antonia Vega's inner monologue in what seemed to be a slightly less sporadic take on stream-of-consciousness, but I can't say th
Judith E
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
With a heavy heart, the newly widowed Antonia learns to navigate the complications of everyday life. She is a deliberate and conscientious thinking woman in her 60’s that suddenly finds herself faced with decisions about sisterhood, immigration, matchmaking, and who really matters most.

Through author Alvarez’s polished storytelling, we certainly know what’s going on in Antonia’s head along with the humor she finds in the nearby town’s name of Athol:).
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2020
“Afterlife” is a slim contemplative and introspective novel that focuses on finding your way after the loss of a loved one and staying true to yourself - and others. Themes include race, immigration, familial ties and mental illness. Has a touch of the political to it, but not enough to be off-putting no matter what your personal leaning is.

A 3.5 - a bit too “talky” for me, but rounding up for the writing.
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 Stars!
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dominican American Alvarez paints an endearing picture of Antonia Vega. She is a recent widow still grieving for her dear Sam. She is in the midst of transitioning from teaching English to retirement and old age. She immigrated to Vermont from the Dominican Republic at a very young age and sympathizes with the undocumented Mexican workers her neighbor hires to help with his dairy farm.

Just when she was settling into her solitary life, her life gets complicated. Mario, one of her neighbors’ undoc
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss2020
A beautifully-written, deep, touching story of Antonia Vega, a college professor and writer, mourning and grieving her husband. Antonia is trying to make sense of the world without her kind and selfless Sam and re-discover who she is and how to continue living in this after-life.
This short, but very powerful novel will make you consider a variety of topics: identity, sense of belonging, family ties and human connection. Things that we often take for granted, until our life changes dramatically a
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Severely overshadowed by her incredible masterpiece, In the Time of the Butterflies, this story again tells of four sisters--all as unique as this: actually having literary doppelgangers in American classic Little Women--which is why the formula is foolproof, but also, you know, explored significantly.

Afterlife is a smaller pond. It's not historical and yet, wait, oh yes. Will we ever forget how persecuted brown people from the South were treated in the grand ol US--and this narrative brings suc
Kasa Cotugno
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Right up to the current minute, this lovely book contains many hot button issues without being preachy. Antonia, the central character who has been dealt a double blow, triple or quadruple if you count outside influences, had immigrated from the Dominican Republic. Her husband, who dies suddenly on the first page, was the town optometrist and was regarded as something of a local saint. They live in a small Vermont town where she has just retired from her position as a professor of English Lit at ...more
I've enjoyed Alvarez's work in the past, so I was incredibly disappointed when I read her new novel. It's about Antonia, a recently widowed retired professor, her relationships with her sisters, and some undocumented immigrants she connects with through a man who is working on a neighboring Vermont farm. The problem was that I found I didn't care about any of the characters, and the plot seemed disjointed. I did not find even one likable character, which is a fiction deal breaker for me. Thanks ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
[4+] From the first pages, I felt an affinity with Antonia. She is a newly retired professor grieving for her husband when she is reluctantly pulled into a quandary with a Mexican neighbor and then a family crisis.

I love Alvarez's tender, meditative writing laced with literary references. Somehow, Afterlife is simultaneously sad and buoyant. I was sorry to leave Antonia when I reached the last page.
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Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. She has taught and mentored writers in schools and communities across America and, until her retirement in 2016, was a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College. Her work h ...more

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