Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jordan Sonnenblick. AFTER EVER AFTER

Jeffrey isn't a little boy with cancer anymore. He's past all the treatments, the hospital stays, and the community support. He's in the next stage now, which he considers a life-sentence all on its own. Kids aren't sure how to treat him. The one lingering aspect of his cancer is his trouble with math. The chemicals messed with his brain and his ability to work with numbers. His dad is frustrated with Jeffrey, because he's a math whiz himself, so surely his son must be a disappointment. His best friend, Tad, is also a cancer survivor, although he was left with physical damage, rather than mental. He's in a wheelchair. His sharp wit and loyalty is just what Jeffrey needs.

Now in eighth grade, both boys wonder about having a normal life. When Lyndsay, from California, transfers to the school and befriends Jeffrey, he begins to think that maybe he will expeience some normalcy. Then a letter arrives in the mail explaining that all students must pass the state exam in eighth grade, before moving on to high school. It crushes him, until Tad comes up with a plan.

This book balances heavy issues with laughter and lighthearted typical middle school worries better than I've ever seen. During one moment, you're laughing hysterically, then the next moment, you're feeling the weight of events in Jeffrey's life.  But even with two kids and cancer, there is not one single depressing moment. You will be left feeling moved and uplifted. I really love it!

By the way, I listened to the audio version and it was spectacular! Nick Podehl is perfect at altering the voices for the character! At one point, I laughed so hard while on a run that I had to stop and catch my breath! I know I would've enjoyed reading the book also, but it would've been a way different experience.

Also, this book is sort of a sequel to DRUMS, GIRLS & DANGEROUS PIE, but not really. DRUMS features Jeffrey's older brother, Steven, while he was in eighth grade. This one is several years later when Jeffrey is in eighth grade. I did not read DRUMS (yet), and I didn't feel I was missing anything at all. In fact, I didn't even know this tidbit until after I read it.

Click here for more on Jordan Sonnenblick and his fabulous books.