REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: In the After by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro
In the After
by Ashley Mackler-Paternostro
There is a reason fairy tales end when they do … because happily ever after is just the beginning of real life.
Once upon a time in the quaint, forgotten coastal town of Joyce, Washington Emmy Burns existed in the middle of an inconsequential life that resembled a small-town fairy tale; days filled with caring for her daughter Avery, running her small but thriving pottery store, married to the only man she had ever loved. But all of that changed when the fog rolled out one beautiful morning, leaving emptiness where Emmy had stood only the day before. She had seemingly and without a sound vanished into the thick misty air of the Pacific Northwest, taking with her a lifetime of secrets.
In the aftermath Stephen Burns is content telling the police his wife must have simply chosen to walk away from him and their daughter. But Sidney Ruth, Emmy’s closest friend, knows the truth. Sidney is the one person who had watched as the vines grew around the dark forest that was the Burn’s marriage trapping Emmy inside and keeping everyone who loved her out.
Years of abuse has to lead to this moment. As the days unfurl so do the secrets Emmy kept walled away, leaving the people of Joyce wondering: What really happened to Emmy Burns in her happily ever after?
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
Emmy Burns and Sidney Ruth have been friends their entire lives. That’s why, when a detective calls Sidney asking if she has heard from Emmy in the past 48 hours, Sidney knows something is very wrong. She also knows Emmy would never disappear and leave her 7 year old daughter behind. And what she believes, above all else, is that Emmy’s abusive husband Stephen is the one behind the disappearance.
Sidney makes the decision to go to the tiny town where Emmy lives and try to unravel the mystery of her vanishing. As she goes about getting media attention for the case, she also reminisces on all the moments that made their friendship so special. The end reveals a shocking secret that will make you think about the way you view love, motherhood, and friendship.
Just like Mrs. Mackler-Paternostro’s debut book, The Milestone Tapes, this novel hit me right in the feels. I am writing this review right after finishing the book, but I know I will be thinking about the events that occurred for a while to come.
The story starts with the disappearance of Emmy, but the heart of things for me, was the evolution of Emmy and Sidney’s friendship, told through flashbacks. Although they have been lifelong friends, Emmy and Sidney are definitely different. Emmy is artistic, quiet, and loving. Sidney is outspoken and doesn’t take anything lying down. Though their lives didn’t go the way they planned, they always swore nothing would get in the way of their friendship….until Emmy married the controlling, demeaning Stephen.
Emmy was lovable but extremely frustrating. I don’t understand how someone could ignore all the warning signs, all the concerns from friends and family, and be in a relationship with someone that clearly doesn’t love them. I am very lucky to say I have never had to experience being in this position. We all like to say we’d never be that woman, we’d never stick around with an abusive spouse. But God, as hard as it is to admit…you can’t say what you’d do, if you’re not the one that’s being put in that impossible predicament. This is of course, made all the worse when a child is in the picture.
This is not to say that Sidney was perfect, not at all. She did come off as being sort of a know-it-all sometimes, and I guess I could understand where Emmy would feel she was being bossed around by her. But no friendship is perfect, and I believe in my heart that Sidney was always doing things with Emmy’s best interests at heart.
The tale unfolded quite slowly, until the punch of an ending, which I NEVER saw coming. But I liked it this way…years of friendship can’t be retold in just a few chapters. And as I said, the book wasn’t really about Emmy’s disappearance, or the abuse. This book is a heartbreaking but hopeful tale of a beautiful relationship that had its’ ups and downs. The author has done a terrific job in writing another book that deals with some of life’s most difficult moments, and I applaud her.
About the Author
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