"I think about what Dr. Greenberg said about having time to figure out God. I don't know if I can figure out God, but I remember God. Or I remember my idea of God from before. He was this nice guy in the sky would help me out with math tests. When I was in the closet, though, I prayed to God so much, begging for help. For someone to find me. And it didn't happen. "......
Dylan is 11 years old and has been kidnapped. His rescue leads to the discovery of a second child, 15 year old Ethan. Ethan had been held for four years. Now the boys are back with their families, but still traumatized. Dylan is autistic and non verbal. He can't adjust to life back home and his sister, Caroline, thinks maybe Ethan can help him. Only Ethan can understand what trauma Dylan suffered.
"Afterward" is the story of how two young boys learned to survive, adjust, and go back to the life they once knew, if that is even possible. It's also the story of how Caroline and Ethan find their own friendship among the ashes. It's the story of how their kidnapping changes everyone and everything forever.
I loved how much Caroline loves her brother and wanted to help him. Heartbreaking at times. People questioning why Ethan didn't run away or call the police. As if they knew what he went through. The story feels vaguely familiar, as if this may have really happened. Perhaps it has.
Being friends isn't as easy as it sounds. There's a lot to work through. Sad story, also sweet. Family sometimes is what makes or breaks all of us. Friends are sometimes the most important thing you have, or can be.
Thank you Jennifer Mathieu, Netgalley, and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.