Audiobook Review - Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu 
Narrated by Nina Alvamar and Jeffrey Brick
Recorded Books
Publication Date: October 22, 2016
Date Read: February 21, 2017
Length: 7 hours 2 minutes
Source: Won - LibraryThing Early Reviewer

A tragic kidnapping leads to an unlikely friendship in this novel about finding light in the midst of darkness. When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other.
My Review

This is a really tough book for me to rate and review.  Before I started listening to this audiobook, I had no idea that the story would so closely follow a kidnapping situation that happened in my hometown.  At first, I thought it was a coincidence but the more I listened and the more I realized that the real event had to be the inspiration for this book.  I have no problem with books that are inspired by actual events but I do think it is extremely important that enough of the story be changed that it isn't so easily recognizable especially in situations like this one where minors where involved.

The book doesn't exactly follow the actual events.  But it is really, really close.  The only big differences were the fact that one of the boys in this story has autism and the kidnapper kills himself rather than allow himself to be captured.  The other details of the kidnapping are pretty much spot on.  One of the boys is kidnapped at age 11 and kept for 4 years until he is found when he is 15.  The other boy is kept for 4 days before he was found.  The first boy is kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend's house.  All of these things happened.  I remember seeing the parents of the first boy begging for his safe return for all four of those years.  I remember the absolute shock that I felt when they were found safe.  I couldn't believe that they were here just miles from my house for that entire time period.  The actual rescue took place a little more than 10 years ago when my girls were 12 and 6 and I remember the absolute fear that I felt that something like this could happen so close to home.   I think that this had to be a very traumatic experience for everyone involved and I wonder how having a book like this that tells such a similar story makes them feel.

The bulk of this book does take place after the kidnapping and I doubt that Ethan and Caroline's tale during this time would look anything like the actual victims.  I did like the focus on therapy for Ethan's family and I really wished that Dylan would have had the same opportunities.   I liked the friendship that developed between Ethan and Caroline.  They have both been through a lot and sometimes have trouble relating to other people.  Ethan has a lot of issues that he needs to work through and he really doesn't have any friends.  His mother is extremely overprotective which is understandable considering what they have been through.

I did like the narration a lot.  This was the first time that I have listened to either of these narrators and I thought they both did an excellent job.  I liked that the use of two narrators to tell this story.  I don't think that the book would have had the same impact without the dual points of view.  I would definitely listen to both of these narrators again in the future.

I thought the actual story was well done.  I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I wasn't constantly comparing it to the event it was based upon.  I am probably quite a bit older than the target audience for this book and I think most readers will not be familiar with the kidnapping that inspired this book.  I just wish that the events in this story would have been changed so that it didn't so closely mirror the actual events.

I received a review copy of this book from Recorded Books via LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
About the Author

Jennifer Mathieu is the author of Devoted and The Truth About Alice, the winner of the Children's Choice Book Awards' Teen Choice Debut Author Award. She teaches middle and high school English in Texas, where she lives in the Houston area with her husband and son.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


  1. It can be difficult sometimes to read a book that is so closely related to actual events.

  2. Oh I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one as much. I would have felt the same if the story was quite similar to the event that I knew. I hope you'll have better reads, Carole.

  3. I can see where the comparison would have been very distracting - especially when it was so very similar to a real life event that must still loom very large in your memory. I do like the therapy for Ethan's family but I'm not sure this book is for me. Having a little boy and this based so closely on actual events I'm not sure I could make it through.

  4. Yeah, that sort of more intimate connection would alter the book entirely in a way that it wouldn't do for the rest of us. Sounds like it would be a good story for a stranger to the events like me, but I don't want to read a kidnapping story about my town either. We had a situation similar that took two years to solve and it elft everyone feeling much less safe. *shivers*

    Nice review, Carole!

  5. oh, wow. art imitating life. way too close for comfort.

  6. Ugh. A kidnapping situation in Missouri? Nope. I would not want to read that. Sorry you didn't enjoy it, though.

  7. Oh goodness. That would be unsettling and a bit jarring.


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