Book Review: Before, After, and Somebody in Between

Book Review: Before, After and Somebody in Between by Jeannine Garsee

First sentence: "Okay, I'm sitting on the edge of my bed, listening to Beethoven and scribbling in my notebook, when Momma shuffles up behind me and smacks me in the head."

From "One hour into her first day of tenth grade, Martha Kowalski knows she's really in trouble. The school bully, Chardonnay, has already threatened her life—and at home, things are even worse. Martha's mom, fresh out of rehab, is shacking up with a total jerk in a run-down two-family in the ghetto.

More than anything she's ever wanted, Martha wants to play the cello. But even music becomes a danger—because nothing is what it seems in this place. With her mother's willpower dissolving, Martha watches helplessly as her own dreams slip farther away.

But in an exhilarating twist that would stun even Cinderella, everything changes. A wealthy lawyer invites her into his family's home, and Martha is given a chance to start over. The warm, caring Brinkman's treat Martha like one of the family, and even though it feels so right, she knows they can't be as perfect as they seem. And she knows this fairy tale can't last forever..."

My take: I had a hard time with this book. Maybe it's because of the utterly pathetic life Martha has been burdened with. It's a clear picture of how children learn as they live. Martha tries hard to be a good student and a good person. But life won't let her. She's a bright girl -- straight A student. She's musically gifted, something she no doubt inherited from her father. Martha's got spirit. She's got a certain boldness about her. So much so, at times I cringed inside warning her to shut up already. Other times, I was rooting for her to kick some ass. Martha's mom is a pathetic piece of work and it would be very easy for Martha to walk the same path in life. Luckily, she cuts a break. Even if it's not a permanent one. A good sobering (no pun intended) read, though at times I found it a little draggy -- but kept reading to find out what happened to her next.

If you've reviewed the book, leave a comment here and I'll post a link to your review!

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (October 28, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599902923
ISBN-13: 978-1599902920


Jeannine Garsee said...

Thank you for the review!

Lori L. Clark said...

You're quite welcome. I look forward to reading more from you. You have the voice down pat. :)

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