Reviews for After Ever After

Booklist Reviews 2009 December #2
*Starred Review* Sonnenblick's Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (2005) told the story of eighth-grader Steven Alper, whose five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, is diagnosed with leukemia. Here, Jeffrey is in the eighth grade himself and takes the limelight. His cancer has gone into remission, but that's not the end of it. "Treatment is nothing compared to what happens after you've been ‘cured.' . . . Being a cancer survivor can be a life sentence all its own." Jeffrey, as well as his best friend, fellow survivor, and devilishly dark humorist, Tad, have all kinds of brain and nerve damage from the intense chemotherapy and radiation, leaving Tad in a wheelchair and Jeffrey with serious concentration problems. But he mostly sweats the smaller stuff: fear of being held back a grade if he fails an impending standardized test; a brother who seems to have abandoned him at the worst possible time; strife at home that he sees as his fault; and, most terrifying, a cute girl who actually likes him. Switching gears back and forth between huge, heavy issues and universal adolescent concerns, Sonnenblick imbues Jeffrey with a smooth, likable, and unaffected voice. Most of all, he recognizes that humor and heart aren't ways to lighten a story--they're there to deliver it. As hilarious as it is tragic, and as honest as it is hopeful, don't confuse this book with inspirational reading. It's irresistible reading. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Jeffrey (Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie) has been cancer-free for over five years, but that doesn't mean life is perfect. Sonnenblick explores the emotional and physical aftermath of childhood cancer with a sensitive but light touch, offering thought-provoking details but keeping the action anchored in family dynamics, first-girlfriend drama, and best friend Tad's irascible, tell-it-like-it-is personality. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
With his trademark combination of sarcasm and shameless heartstring-pulling, Sonnenblick continues the story begun in his debut, Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (rev. 1/06). Jeffrey has been cancer-free for over five years now -- which means he's most likely out of the woods -- but that doesn't mean life is perfect. Years of poisonous treatments have left him with some learning disabilities, a particular problem now that the state is making a standardized test a requirement for graduating from middle school; Jeffrey's childhood as the town's cause cŽlbre makes his relationships with peers awkward; and older brother and hero Steven has run off to Africa. Add surly best friend (and fellow cancer survivor) Tad, new girl (and possible girlfriend) Lindsay, and some inspiring (or occasionally bonkers) teachers, and you have the makings of a life-changing year. Sonnenblick explores the emotional and physical aftermath of childhood cancer, ground rarely tread in books for children, with a sensitive but light touch, offering thought-provoking details but keeping the action anchored in family dynamics, first-girlfriend drama, and Tad's irascible, tell-it-like-it-is personality. There's plenty of sentimentality and a few soapboxes, but Sonnenblick's gift for comic exaggeration and snappy dialogue ensures that readers will be drawn in for another deftly plotted tour of eighth grade at its most profound. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 January #1
In this companion novel to Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie (2005), Steven's little brother Jeffrey, now in eighth grade and in full remission from leukemia, discovers that happily ever after isn't quite what he expected. First of all, his hero big brother abandons him to take a year off from college to play drums in Africa. Then he finds out that to get into high school, he'll have to pass a statewide standardized test in math, his worst subject. Finally, he is stricken by the news that his best friend Tad, also a cancer survivor, is back in treatment. The only bright spot is that cute new girl Lindsey is showing an interest in him. Now if he could just figure out how to talk to her! Told with Sonnenblick's trademark self-deprecating humor, this stand-alone tween narrative slots neatly into the space between the author's YA and J titles, sensitively dealing with issues of family, friendship and death in a way that will appeal to middle-grade students. Recommended for fans and new readers alike. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 January #1

Jeffrey Alper, now in eighth grade, narrates this intense sequel to Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. He is cancer-free now, but leukemia treatment left Jeffrey with a limp and a brain that is "a little scrambled up." When he learns he will be held back unless he passes a statewide standardized test, Jeffrey panics, then agrees to let Tad, his best friend and fellow cancer survivor, tutor him. But Jeffrey fails the practice test and is dealing with other stresses: his older brother--always his biggest supporter--is unreachable in Africa, his girlfriend won't see him until after the test, and Tad is suddenly missing a lot of school. Jeffrey's honest, humorous narration acts as a counterbalance to the subject matter (when Tad asks if he ever dreamed of doing "something completely magnificent," Jeffrey answers, "Dude, mostly I just hope I won't forget to zip my pants in the morning"). Even so, this book is packed with emotional highs and lows, and readers will understand the toll cancer takes on victims and everyone around them--even after it is gone. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 January

Gr 6-9--Sonnenblick's Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie (Turning Tide, 2004) told the story of eighth-grader Steven Alper and his struggle to deal with his four-year-old brother's leukemia diagnosis amid the normal drama of being a teen. This sequel is told from Jeffrey's point of view. Now Jeff is in eighth grade and just as he's getting his first girlfriend, wondering why his best friend and fellow cancer survivor is acting so weird, and trying to cope with some post-cancer disabilities, Steven, his rock, has dropped out of college and gone to join a drumming circle--in Africa! In a year of emotional and physical challenges, heartache, humor, and love, Jeffrey learns to depend on himself and live life to the fullest. Sonnenblick's intimate first-person tale of survival is a solid stand-alone novel that will leave an emotional, uplifting imprint on readers.--Terri Clark, Smoky Hill Library, Centennial, CO

[Page 114]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2010 February
Jeffrey is a short, chubby leukemia survivor with a limp who has trouble processing information as a result of the medication he has taken. Tad is wheelchair bound, insolent, and a survivor of multiple brain surgeries. These friends make quite the pair in this story of their eighth grade year, narrated both comically and poignantly by Jeffrey. It starts when he meets gorgeous Lindsay, a California transplant. They immediately take to each other, much to Jeffrey's surprise, and become boyfriend/girlfriend. Jeffrey, arriving home after his first day at school, finds a letter addressed to his parents stating that New Jersey has made passing standardized tests in math, science, and English mandatory for graduation. Jeffrey's processing difficulties make it virtually impossible, so he throws the letter down the garbage disposal--no need for his parents to know. He and Tad come up with a plan: Tad will tutor him in math, and Jeffrey will force Tad to exercise so he can walk on stage for graduation Sonnenblick is informative yet funny as he deftly describes Jeffrey's and Tad's illnesses. Some of their escapades are laugh-out-loud funny. He finds humor in Jeffrey's wandering mind, a side effect of his medication but a trait typical of many healthy teens. Flash McGrath, gym teacher-turned-math tutor, is hysterical. Sonnenblick is also serious when he discusses the emotional and financial impact of Jeffrey's leukemia on his family. The toll of their illnesses on the boys is heavy and shapes their view of life. The ending is very realistic in this worthy read for all.--Ed Goldberg 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.