Life, AfterLife, After
By Sarah Darer Littman
Published by Scholastic Press

Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year, 2011
Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teens, 2011

[Life, After] shows a place and part of recent history left mostly unexamined in YA literature, highlighting an act of terrorism in Argentina and a Latin American immigrant.” –Rhona Campbell, School Library Journal

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Description
Dani’s life in Argentina—private school, a boyfriend, a loving family—is crumbling quickly. To escape from a country in crisis, where it feels like every day the ground sinks a little more under their feet, Dani and her family move to the United States. It’s supposed to be a fresh start, but when you’re living in a cramped apartment and going to high school where all the classes are in another language  – and not everyone is friendly –  life in America isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Dani misses her old friends, her life, Before. In addition, she must deal with an angry father who seems more like a stranger every day.
Just when Dani is about to break, she meets a boy named Jon, who isn’t like all the other students. Through him, she becomes friends with Jessica, one of the popular girls, who is harboring a secret of her own. And then there’s Brian, the boy who makes Dani’s pulse race. In her new life, the one After, Dani learns how to heal and forgive. She finds the courage to say goodbye and allows herself to love and be loved again.

Reviews & Accolades
Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year, 2011
Sydney Taylor Honor Book for Teens, 2011

“…this affecting book works in its entirety. It shows a place and part of recent history left mostly unexamined in YA literature, highlighting an act of terrorism in Argentina and a Latin American immigrant. Dani’s experiences give her insight and empathy into a community suffering the aftermath of 9/11. Littman’s sprinkling of Spanish words and phrases throughout gives a genuine feel to her dialogue, and her references to Jewish customs also fit smoothly into the context.” –Rhona Campbell, School Library Journal

“In this lachrymose emigration story, hard economic times in Buenos Aires, the steady flight of friends and neighbors to Israel and the U.S., and finally her mother’s injuries in a flash mob prompt teenage Daniela Bensimon and her parents to relocate to suburban New York. The transition is a hard one—particularly for her father, who lost his small business and a close relative in a terrorist bombing—but thanks to high-school friendships with a classmate with Asperger’s syndrome and his protective twin sister, as well as a deepening relationship with another student named Brian, Daniela makes it over the rough spots, and by the end she is feeling “a little less like an extranjera and a little more like an americana.” Littman…weaves sensitively articulated themes (the story is set in 2003, when the impact of 9/11 was still sharp) and credible teen banter into an emotionally complex tale. Daniela’s many amusing encounters with idiomatic expressions in her new language may provide an additional draw for ELL readers.” –John Peters, Booklist

“The intensely personal story of 16-year-old Dani and her family unfolds in the early years of the new millennium in Buenos Aires during Argentina’s economic crisis (“It seemed like we lived in a country where every day the floor was sinking a little farther under our feet,” she reflects)…Dani’s mother decides to move the family to Twin Lakes, N.Y., which they hope will be a financial and cultural refuge, but despite Dani’s new friends, it is difficult to assimilate in post-9/11 America and to forget the tragedies in her past. The languid pace and wealth of details in Littman’s empathetic story magnifies its emotionally convincing and absorbing qualities.” –Publisher’s Weekly

“On her first day of school in America, Dani is terrified of getting lost, speaking English, and fitting in to the strange environment. She misses Argentina, her friends, and her boyfriend, and she wishes that her father would stop being so grumpy and depressed…Told in first person narration, the author does a fine job of blending Spanish words into the text and creating vivid images of Buenos Aires and American high schools. She crafts a warm, culturally sensitive, character-driven story.” –Children’s Literature

Adjustments to a new school, language, and culture are not easy. By the book’s conclusion, however, all is hopeful…Interwoven into Dani’s story are the social issues of terrorism, post-traumatic stress syndrome, Asperger’s syndrome, bullying, and immigration.” –VOYA

Groups Represented
Argentinean American, Jewish

Themes
Immigration, multicultural friendship, trauma, family relationships, family death

Setting
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Twin Lakes, New York

Author Research
TBA

Engagement Projects
VIEW a book trailer on YouTube
VIEW a teacher’s guide

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