The After Life

 
(i)

 

Mature teens will love this wreck of a family.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Will and Liz have an unhealthy attraction. Will's uncle likely committed suicide, and the teens are without any solid role models.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Will and his half-sister hook up on the dance floor in a drug-fueled haze.

Language

Lots of swearing, yelling, etc.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Will is almost always drunk, on drugs, or both. He and Liz take ecstacy, and even the real adults are drunk or on drugs.

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.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about other road trip movies and books. What is it about road trips that are so appealing in our culture? What do they symbolize for us? How is this book similar to or different from other road trip stories you've read or seen?

Book details

Author:Daniel Ehrenhaft
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Razorbill
Publication date:October 5, 2006
Number of pages:272
Publisher's recommended age(s):14
Read aloud:16
Read alone:16

This review of The After Life was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byKayKayD September 14, 2009
 

Fine For Me, Not Sure About You

I read this when I was 12 (I'm 14 now) and I handled it just fine. However, you moronic "protective" parents will probably hate it. However (overused word), it is one of the most influential books in my life. It taught me about the real world.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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