Monday, January 16, 2012

Life Is a Dryer Full of Socks

This'll be quick, because the book was quick.  The Everafter, by Amy Huntley,  is not a book I'd call light, fun, or fluffy, but that's mostly because it's about death.  And it's not silly, or at all cheesy.

But it's a puff piece on death. This book isn't about mining any of the darkness.  The main character died at 17, but it's not even about being cut down so young, the way Before I Fall was.  It's kind of a meditation on loss, I guess?  Or really, on lost opportunities.  But in a sweet way, not a painful one. 

Maddy finds herself formless and alone, floating in a void with almost no memories.  She shares the void with random objects--a shoe, a rubber band, a set of keys, a cell phone.  These things are everything she's ever lost, and when she touches something, she is taken back to the moment when it was lost.  As she lives more moments in her life, she regains more and more memories, and begins to circle in on the question of how she died.

The question of who killed her is treated nicely--it's not the point of the book, but curiosity keeps you interested in the story.  The real point of the book, though, is about the things that slip away.  It seems kind of odd to have a book for teens that is about memory and wistful regret, but it's balanced with how self-doubt in one moment becomes regret in another.  Maddy can change her past, but the memories that she overwrites slip away, and she can never really compare now with then.

I've read a lot of young adult books for many years, but lately I've started to notice that some things have started to get on my nerves--earth-shattering teen romances, entire books whose tension revolves around people not saying what they think.  But this book puts a lot of "stereotypically" teen moments--tongue-tied by your crush, panicking over lost homework--in just the right perspective, simultaneously the biggest problem ever and just a mote of dust drifting away.

This is a short book, dreamy, easy to read.  I don't know if I'll be thinking about it next week, but it was well worth the few hours I spent with it.

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