AFTER ELAINE by Ann L. Dreyer


Age Range: 10 - 14
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A few weeks before the end of Gina’s fifth-grade year, her angry, difficult older sister skips school and dies in a car accident with another teenager with whom she had been drinking. For Gina, the vivid memory of her sister’s constant rage and unhappiness seems to be a bewildering and unnavigable road map to understanding her loss. She must come to terms not only with her sister’s death, but also with the complex emotions that the disconsolate, tumultuous Elaine has left behind. The hard and complicated work of grief is implied, rather than detailed, in the first-person narrative, and Dreyer steers clear of both sentimentality and deep psychological waters. Though Gina’s parents and her sensitive older brother are themselves grieving they are shown as quietly supportive, and the focus is on Gina, who must contend with the familiar emotional trials of a child her age: difficulties with peers and classroom dynamics. Gina, confused and unhappy, steals (and later returns) a stuffed dragon from a gift shop—but she also finds the courage to stand up against an unfair teacher. In her impressive debut, Dreyer achieves a true voice for Gina, a child on the verge of adolescence—fresh, perceptive, and engaging without being coy or bratty. A likable heroine and a convincing exploration of loss. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8126-2651-6
Page count: 136pp
Publisher: Cricket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2002