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The After Life
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a very mature book featuring three extremely messed-up teens. The characters fight and swear, and Will especially is nearly always drunk or on drugs (and sometimes both). Also, Liz and Will -- who believe they are half-brother and sister -- develop a romantic relationship and kiss.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Soon after Will meets his half-brother and sister for the first time, their rich father -- who Will barely knew -- dies. He leaves the twins mega-money, but offers Will a deal: He'll get two million if he drives an old Volvo from Florida to New York. Will doesn't have a license, so the twins drive, and they get to know one another along the way -- especially how hurt each of them really is.
Is it any good?
Each of the three teen characters in THE AFTER LIFE is a mess, each in his or her own way, and it's easy to understand why. Though they are messy and often jerks, strung out on drugs, alcohol, or just plain exhaustion, they are somehow easy to empathize with and root for. Likewise, their antics, like crashing a "New Democracy" party in the middle of nowhere, are outrageous, anxiety-producing, and still somehow humorous and compelling.
There is a lot about driving in this book: Will's uncle burned up in a car accident learning to drive, Will has yet to get his own license, and the whole book takes place on the road. Readers will understand the author's use of driving as symbol for control -- but they will find the car metaphor appropriate in another way, too: Reading this is a lot like watching a car wreck. It gets ugly, but it's hard to look away.