Fifteen year old Devon is a talented soccer player with "unlimited" potential. She is an honor student, has a 4.15 GPA and is well liked by the adults around her as well as her peers.
Devon has a very strict sense of the person she is and wants to become. She pushes herself to excel at everything she does, and with an absent mom, she is the only one she is accountable to.
Devon has also been arrested for the attempted murder of her newborn baby.
This story starts out with the police canvasing the Tacoma area after a man walking his dog, finds a newborn baby in a dumpster. When the police arrive at Devon's apartment, they find her nearly unconscious and covered in blood. We move with her through the trip to the hospital, her arrest, her court proceedings, her time in juvenile detention and through her confusion in all of the chaos. Through flashbacks we learn how Devon had allowed herself to fall for a boy slightly older than her, have one sexual encounter, and then deliver a baby all alone in her bathroom after denying the pregnancy for 9 months.
This book is labeled Children's Literature: 8th grade and up, and was recommended to me by my 18 year old daughter. Quite honestly, I don't know that I would have gotten out of it at 13 or 14, what I did at 30-something. The book is very well written and I didn't feel as if I were reading a Children's book at all. It was an easy read, though I found myself skipping some overly descriptive paragraphs to get to dialogue here and there (I swear I'm as impatient in reading as I am in real life).
While I admit the topic seems horrifying, the author focused more on the psychological aspects surrounding the event, than on the act of leaving a baby to die. I worked for Social Services and with children who've been abused and neglected for a number of years, so I had a little coldness in my heart for Devon when I started reading the book. I know there are two sides to every story, but when it comes to babies I tend to only take one side. Imagine my surprise as I start to feel empathy for this girl despite the depravity of her crime.
I think the author says it best in her note at the end of the book ...
The "dumpster baby" phenomenon is an invisible American tragedy, poorly understood and rarely acknowledged.
Though most people would consider the behavior inexplicable and unusual, its occurrence is disturbingly common ...In my own home, I would have no issues with my children reading After. I strongly recommend that a parent read it if their child shows an interest in this book. The topic brings up issues that should definitely be a conversation piece between parent and child.
...Texas was the first state to enact what would later be termed "safe haven" legislation. that was in 1999, and since then, all forty-nine other states have passed similar legislation. Yet news outlets all over the United States are still reporting these "Dumpster baby" stories with alarming regularity. So why is this still happening? After attempts to answer that question.
my book is up for grabs, if anyone is interested ... and yes, I am aware of my tendency for the morose story ;)