The Afterwards by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Emily Gravett

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Ember and Ness are the very best of friends and would do anything for each other. Theirs is the kind of friendship where just a look can cause the kind of laughter that brings tears of joy with it. When Ness dies, very suddenly, Ember is lost and empty. A dead dog, curious cat and a map on peculiar paper provide Ember with a way to get to the Afterworld. It’s time to bring Ness back by any means possible. Because that’s what friends do.

Heartbreakingly poignant and darkly comic, The Afterwards is a gripping story of grief, friendship and determination.

I adored Ember and Ness’s easy friendship, and felt the full force of shock run from Ember through the pages and into me on hearing about her best friend’s death. Her inability to let Ness go sees her make questionable decisions that put her in harm’s way on more than one occasion as she tries to unravel the mystery of how to go on without her best friend.

The Afterworld mirrors the eerie world, stripped of colour and warmth, that grief can plunge us into. A world between life and death, it feels familiar yet is definitely not a place for the living to linger in. Colourless, soundless and motionless there is nothing to soothe the soul. No wonder Ember is so determined to bring Ness back from there.

Uncle Graham is, without doubt, one of the most pitiful adults I have ever come across in a book, whether for children or adults. His grief is so all encompassing he cares about no one but himself. If he wasn’t so pitiful he would be very easy to despise.

Emily Gravett’s atmosperic and moving illustrations blend perfectly with A.F. Harrold’s words, capturing the emotions of the characters and the mood of the story effortlessly. There is one in particular that I’d love to hang on my wall!

The Afterwards is definitely one for Upper Key Stage 2 due to it’s themes in my opinion, and one you should read for yourself before recommending. While the vast majority of children will love, and be moved, by this beautiful story, I imagine some may find it difficult or possibly scary in parts.

Great for fans of The Mystery Of The Colour Thief, The Graveyard Book and The Infinite Lives Of Maisie Day.

Huge thanks to Caroline @ReadingZone for asking me to review this wonderful book. Do make sure you check out the other fabulous books reviewed by librarians and teachers on their site.

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