Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

After Eli

After Eli

Fall 2012 Fiction
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Author: Rebecca Rupp
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763658106
Hardcover Price: $15.99

Since Danny's brother Eli was killed in Iraq, his family hasn't been the same. His mother quit her teaching job and stopped seeing any of her friends, and his father never really talks to Danny (not that he ever did). Mainly, he just wants to talk at Danny about his grades and about how if he doesn't start doing something about them, he'll end up like Jim Pilcher, who dropped out of college and had to go to rehab until he started an organic farm. Danny, however, likes Jim Pilcher. Jim was one of Eli's friends, and Danny decides to work for him on the farm instead of going to summer school. He also keeps a Book of the Dead (another activity of which his father does not approve), putting Eli's death alongside the deaths of other people in history. That summer, he also befriends Walter and Isabelle, and finally starts to feel that his life is moving forward again.

This is a beautifully written and moving book about dealing with grief; although, like all good books, it is about many things, including finding and then losing first love, and discovering who one wants to be in the world. Danny's voice is by turns funny, sad, and thoughtful, and is always entirely convincing. The secondary characters, especially Isabelle's bratty younger siblings, are well drawn. Thoughtful young readers will appreciate this new novel.

Naomi Lesley   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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