Book Title: Life After Juliet
Author: Shannon Lee Alexander
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Genre: Contemporary YA
Becca Hanson was never able to make sense of the real world. When her best friend Charlotte died, she gave up on it altogether. Fortunately, Becca can count on her books to escape—to other times, other places, other people…
Until she meets Max Herrera. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can.
As it turns out, kissing is a lot better in real life than on a page. But love and life are a lot more complicated in the real world…and happy endings aren’t always guaranteed.
The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, of kissing and love, and most importantly, a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.
Act 2, scene 11— (condensed)
I have to kiss a boy. Onstage. Tomorrow….
To prepare for my doom, I watch a lot of kissing.
That sounds pervy. But since I’ve never kissed anyone, tomorrow will be like stepping on the moon for me. I’ve got no past experiences to hold me down; floating off into space is a real possibility, albeit an enticing one, since I’d implode in space and therefore wouldn’t have to actually kiss Thomas in front of a theater full of people.
But even after studying a bunch of romantic movies, I can’t figure out how the kisser and kissee know which way to tilt their faces, how hard to press their lips together, or what to do with their hands.
Patterns emerged from all the romantic scenes. Hands in hair, tilt face right, smash faces together like wrecking balls. Hands on face, barely tilt face at all, gentle brush of the lips. Hands on hips, tilt face left, open mouth, and—holy crap. I’m doomed.
I loved Becca’s story. I’ve procrastinated reading the companion book (Love and Other Unknown Variables) because the last “kids with cancer book” I read (TFIOS, of course) made me lose it while walking the dog (audiobook–I wasn’t actually reading while walking–that time. Becca’s right, attempting to walk and read hard copies can cause real problems). But now, of course, I’m going to have to read it. Soon. Though probably just pulling up the title page will make me cry,
Juliet starts with Charlotte’s funeral–Becca’s Charlotte’s best friend, and her brother Charlie (hero of Variables) is her boyfriend. Then it jumps forward in time, and we see Becca back at school without her BFF. She measures time in how many pages she’s read (which OMG, my reader heart just loved. I’m so tempted to do the same, except how sad would that make me? Becca managed to stop by the end of the book, which I’m pretty sure is a measure of her growth…but still. It’s awesome) and she has far more contact with fictional people than actual living, breathing ones.
Which apparently, is a problem. 😉
I’m kidding. I know it’s a problem. Really.
Anyway, it takes a handful of very-much-alive people to help Becca see that she can/will/must rejoin the land of the living even though Charlotte isn’t a part of it any more. Max bravely blazes the first trial, making it hard for Becca to ignore him, telling her about the play and tech crew, and foisting his crazy, loveble friends on her and her lonely lunch table. Victor, Max’s BFF, provides the comic relief and gives Becca a much-needed kick in the butt where her relationship with Max is concerned. Mr. Owens, the director and theater arts teacher, casts Becca as Juliet (against her will) and also gives the entire cast the inspiration to take the play in a whole other direction, further propelling Becca out of herself and back into the world. And Darby, the drama club’s undisputed queen? She just scares the crap out of everyone. And joins Victor in the Becca-butt-kicking.
Life After Juliet made me laugh–and cry. Mostly happy tears, this time. Watching Becca come alive again (in some ways, almost for the first time–she was pretty much a loner before Charlotte, apparently) and coming to terms with her grief is a funny and touching experience. Whether you’ve experienced her level of loss or not, it’s bound to have an effect on you. It worked fine as a standalone, though I’d imagine if you’ve already read Variables it will have even more impact for you.
Plus, if you haven’t read Variables, you’re probably going to want to. Soon. I’m just saying.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
About the author:
Shannon Lee Alexander is a wife and mother (of two kids and one yellow terrier named Harriet Potter). She is passionate about coffee, books, and cancer research. She spent most of her time in high school hiding out in the theater with the drammies and techies. Math still makes her break out in a sweat. She currently lives in Indianapolis with her family.
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