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Even though the cancer should be far behind him, Jeffrey still worries that it will return. He’s got normal teen stuff to deal with, too ― friends, parents, girls, school. Normally, he’d ask his older brother, Steven, for advice. But Steven, always the trusty, responsible one, is finally rebelling and has taken off to Africa to join a drumming circle and “find himself.” Jeffrey feels abandoned. Meanwhile, his best friend, Tad, is hatching some kind of secretive, crazy plan involving eighth-grade graduation. And Lindsey Abraham, a way hot girl who is new to the school, thinks Jeffrey’s cute . . . which totally freaks him out. There’s a lot about life that cancer has prepared Jeffrey for, but there’s a lot that’s brand-new. Now it’s time for him to learn not only how to fight for himself but to stick up for the people he loves. Surprising and delightful at every turn, After Ever After is a real, tender, hopeful, and funny story about what happens when you stop surviving and start living again.
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Jordan Sonnenblick is the author of the acclaimed teen novels Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, Notes from the Midnight Driver, and Zen and the Art of Faking it. In addition to being a writer, he’s a middle-school English teacher and would never penalize one of his students for bringing an imaginary friend to school. Jordan lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and their two children. If he’s ever had an imaginary friend, he’s not telling! You can visit him on the Web at www.jordansonnenblick.com.From Booklist:
*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. Grades 5-8. --Ian Chipman
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