Why does a particular story grab your attention? I've found many reasons why a book has made me keep reading to all hours of the night. Rosamund Lupton's new novel Afterwards is one of those books. This literary thriller is the story of a loving mother who fights to protect her family in the wake of a tragic fire. Only she can get to the bottom of who is trying to destroy her children. The engrossing plot filled with twists and turns grabbed me from the get-go and didn't let go. It packed an emotional punch. I felt like I knew these characters and could identify with the roller coaster ride of that family's life.
Grace is a 39-year-old mother of two kids, living the good life. Her husband Mike is a famous TV documentarian. She works part-time at the newspaper. Her kids go to private school and her 17-year-old daughter is working at her brother's school as a teacher's assistant before heading to university. A perfect life. Until there is a devastating fire at the school. Most of the school is outdoors at sports day, but not everyone. When Grace realizes that the school is on fire, she rushes in to find her daughter after seeing that her son is safe outside. Both Grace and Jenny are seriously hurt. Jenny is burned and has organ damage. Grace has a serious head injury. And it turns out that the fire was arson.
Due to their injuries both Grace and Jenny have out-of-body experiences and are able to leave their bodies. This allows them to overhear conversations, which helps Grace find out who perpetrated this crime that changed her family forever. Along the way she develops a new appreciation for her sister-in-law, Sarah, a tenacious truth-seeking-at-all-costs police officer. Grace probably learns more than she ever knew or wanted to know about the lives of her family members, her friends, and the people in her world. She definitely learns about pain, bullying, abuse, greed, sacrifice, betrayal, and the depth of the love she has for her family.
I recommend this powerful and moving story.