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After You    by Julie Buxbaum order for
After You
by Julie Buxbaum
Order:  USA  Can
Dial, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Ellie Lerner lives in Boston with her husband Phillip. Since the death of their baby she has lost interest in her teaching job, her marriage, and life altogether. Now Ellie has just received the news that her best friend Lucy Stafford has been murdered in London. Lucy's eight-year-old daughter Sophie (Ellie's godchild) is the only witness to this horrific crime. We all know choices we make today will affect our future. What would you do if it happened to you? Fly to London to help in any way possible, or stay and try to make your marriage work?

After seeing her mother die so violently, Sophie is in shock. Her father Greg has turned to his work and the bottle to escape reality. Ellie knows her husband is waiting her return, but she feels needed in London. (Phillip has been waiting for Ellie to come back since the death of their child several years ago.) Ellie wonders if she is helping Sophie because her mother died, or because she herself lost a child and wants to be a mother. Is she helping a grieving husband because she doesn't know how to care for her own? These are a few questions Ellie is facing and avoiding.

Sophie has shut down and refuses to speak. Ellie begins a daily routine of reading The Secret Garden to her. Each finds this comforting in her own way, and soon Sophie is responding. Ellie begins to discover that Lucy had secrets of her own. Some big, some small, secrets that she kept hidden from her best friend. Ellie is devastated when she learns Phillip has filed for divorce, but in examining Lucy's life Ellie must confront her own. After You takes the reader inside the pain Sophie feels, Ellie's desperation, and Phillip's frustrations. It is a strong character study and a powerful read.

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