Summary from Goodreads:
When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other
Afterward is another novel like A List of Cages that I struggled to find the right words to review.
The novel focuses on the two points of view of Ethan, a teenager who was kidnapped at age 11, and Caroline the sister of a young autistic boy who was kidnapped by the same person. I felt that Mathieu did an amazing job with the use of duel points of view because the alternating chapters/characters were so different and well-written. A novel can suffer from POVS that are too similar or an overload of characters but Afterward was balanced and contained great main characters.
The novel tackles a lot of touch issues but it does so in a tasteful way that makes the reader feel for both Ethan, who is struggling after years of abuse and Caroline who blames herself for her brother's kidnapping.
I had to put down the novel a few times because of the flooding emotions and feelings I felt toward Ethan and Caroline. The fact that I connected so much with the characters shows just how well-written and structured Afterward was.
One of my favorite aspects of the novel was the use of therapy, it was shown in a positive light as something healing and beneficial. A lot of the time in media therapy tends to be criticized or shown as useless, Mathieu does the opposite instead showing how therapy, the act of talking to someone is a safe environment, can end up helping those suffering from traumatic experiences.
I enjoyed the fact that Mathieu crafted an ending that was not full of overblown twists to shock the reader (but it did have some big reveals and a interesting plot development near the end) or unrealistic situations instead she shows that real life may not have an happy ending but it does get better.
I recommend checking this out but be warned it deals with difficult subject matters and will make you cry.
5 Stars out of 5 Stars