“Afterlife” Book Review

I love books where you’re dropped right into a character’s mind. We don’t get a ton of background on Antonia Vega when we first meet her (only that she’s struggling as a recent widow). Then we’re thrust into the action of Antonia’s life – including the disappearance of one of her unstable sisters and her discovery of an immigrant pregnant teenager who desperately needs her help. Throughout the entire book, Antonia felt very real to me; her inner dialogue was honest and spirited. The story comes even more alive whenever Antonia’s sisters are present – loud, dramatic, and emotional, they spring colorfully from the page.

Although Alvarez’s book is pretty filled with action, it’s a more quiet desperation that drives the plot. Her style of writing took me a bit of time to get used to; it can seem choppy with incomplete sentences and stream of consciousness-like tangents. But once I came to understand the language, I was taken in by the story. Antonia constantly fights to do right by her sisters, her community, and as a Latina woman in America today.

This might be a more PC choice for people who are turned off by the “American Dirt” controversy but still want to connect to a strong woman of color character.

4 stars

*Free ARC provided by Netgalley and Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review*

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