In The After – Book Review
In The After
by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro
There is a reason fairy tales end when they do … because happily ever after is just the beginning of real life.
Once upon a time in the quaint, forgotten coastal town of Joyce, Washington Emmy Burns existed in the middle of an inconsequential life that resembled a small-town fairy tale; days filled with caring for her daughter Avery, running her small but thriving pottery store, married to the only man she had ever loved. But all of that changed when the fog rolled out one beautiful morning, leaving emptiness where Emmy had stood only the day before. She had seemingly and without a sound vanished into the thick misty air of the Pacific Northwest, taking with her a lifetime of secrets.
In the aftermath Stephen Burns is content telling the police his wife must have simply chosen to walk away from him and their daughter. But Sidney Ruth, Emmy’s closest friend, knows the truth. Sidney is the one person who had watched as the vines grew around the dark forest that was the Burn’s marriage trapping Emmy inside and keeping everyone who loved her out.
Years of abuse has to led to this moment. As the days unfurl so do the secrets Emmy kept walled away, leaving the people of Joyce wondering: What really happened to Emmy Burns in her happily ever after?
Like the authors first book, I love that the characters are very real. They are described so well that its easy to understand their emotions, what motivates, frustrates, and excites them. I enjoy that they aren’t perfect, just human. While dealing with the topic of domestic abuse, I admire the way it was approached. As a reader, we understand how it started, why she stays, why she feels she can’t leave, and why she still loves him. We also understand how this would strain other friendships and relationships in her life. Its hard to love someone who is being hurt, and I think the best way to view it was when Sydney says that Emmy didn’t want to be saved, she just wanted someone to share her secrets with. What a sweet way to say, she did what she could, while still giving Emmy the agency to decide for herself.