The After Girls by Leah Konen Review

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Title: The After Girls
Author: Leah Konen (Twitter)
Publisher: Merit Press
Publish Date: April 18, 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher

Ella, Astrid, and Sydney were planning the perfect summer after high school graduation. But when Astrid commits suicide in a lonely cabin, the other girls' worlds are shattered. How could their best friend have done this--to herself and to them? They knew everything about Astrid. Shouldn't they have seen this coming? Couldn't they have saved her?

As Ella hunts for the truth, and Sydney tries to dull the pain, a chilling message from Astrid leaves them wondering whether their beloved friend is communicating from the after life. The girls embark on a journey to uncover Astrid's dark secrets. The answers to those questions--questions they never dreamed of asking--will change their lives forever.
Three girls with an unbreakable bond are broken by that which eventually irreparably changes all of our relationships - death. Ella and Sydney are left behind when their best friend, Astrid, commits suicide seemingly out-of-the-blue. What was supposed to have been a picture perfect summer turns into a nightmare of grief, loss and guilt as the girls struggle to reconcile with Astrid's passing. But just when they think that life couldn't get more tumultuous, they receive a message from Astrid, which can't be possible...or can it?

I have a rocky history with contemporary fiction. Those of you who have read my blog for a while know this.  It's not from a lack of love for the genre, but rather from what I tend to see as a lack of sincerity from the genre. So, needless to say, I was excited to see a young adult contemporary novel that actually lacked the familiar hype of the industry, giving me a chance to see a novel break the norm. Author, Leah Konen, has crafted a heartbreaking, powerful and hard-hitting debut that doesn't mask the pain of loss, but rather utilizes it to fuel the story. Raw, rich and evocative, The After Girls teaches us about life, loss, grief and the beauty of moving on in the best way way possible.

Guys, I have so many thoughts about The After Girls. Ella and Sydney were two stark contrasts of one another in their grieving processes. One is desperate for the truth, while other simply wants to forget it ever happened and to rid herself of the pain. The book is laced with tragedy and despair, but as we see Ella receive the messages from Astrid, we begin to piece these broken characters and their lives back together. I have to be honest; when I first saw the premise, I thought it was a dead-ringer for Pretty Little Liars. Messages from the grave? I mean, come on. However, after reading The After Girls, I don't think I could have been further from the truth. These messages from Astrid were anything but malicious. They were almost a coping mechanism for Ella, and for that reason, I think this story soars. She's the only one who saw the messages. In my humble opinion, rather than viewing this as a paranormal twist, thinking of it as Ella's way of grieving made me invest further in her character. Though I found Sydney more difficult to relate to because of her anger and deep-rooted guilt, she nevertheless felt real. The After Girls is not a light story, and I struggled with the dark nature of the plot at times, alternating between anger and sadness. However, there is a semblance of peace at the end that makes it worthwhile.

All in all, I was actually really impressed with The After Girls, and I think the author has a real future in this industry. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. I thought this might be like Pretty Little Liars from the blurb, too. But I'm glad it isn't! My experience with contemporaries is not the best either, but I have been thinking about maybe trying to incorporate them into my reading more because I feel pigeonholed sometimes with the usual dystopian and fantasy fare I read. This one sounds good enough to add to my potential contemp tbr, definitely. Thanks for the review, Melissa!

  2. I sure hope you do give it a go, Aylee! I thought it was a really strong take on a good premise, so I think it might appeal to others who agree with us on contemps!

  3. It reminds me a little of Pretty Little Liars, but better.

  4. It was definitely a lot deeper than PLL...I think you'd like it!

  5. Yeah, it's definitely more obscure, but it's a standout contemp for me as of late. I hope you give it a go!

  6. Nice review. This sounds like an intense book.

  7. Contemporary fiction really is always hit or miss for some reason. This looks really bittersweet -- I'm adding it to my TBR... but I don't know if it would be too depressing for me?

  8. I have not heard anything about this book but it sounds really good.

    Great review!

  9. I haven't heard much about this book, to tell you the truth, but it does sound pretty fascinating. I'd be interested in reading about these girls, and seeing how they cope and transform as their story is told.

  10. This book is new to me. You have certainly convinced me to check it out and I am glad you liked it. Great review.


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