After Her by Joyce Maynard #Giveaway

by Elizabeth

5 Minutes for Books staff reviewer Elizabeth received a copy of this book to facilitate her review and giveaway.

after her

In her latest novel After Her, we find Joyce Maynard writing at the top of her form. She took a real-life situation, that of a serial killer in the late 70s in Marin County near San Francisco, and an Italian-American detective with two daughters who tries in vain to catch and stop him. From that, she has spun out a richly-imagined tale of sisterhood, of love and loyalty, of family and what that means. It combines a suspenseful tale, a murder mystery if you will, with a deep look at a girl on the cusp of womanhood, teasing out what love and loyalty mean in both her own life and that of her sister, parents, and friends.

When the novel opens, Rachel is 13 and Patty is 11. They live a life of freedom, their mother sunk in a deep depression from which she emerges only to visit the library, leaving the girls to roam the mountain park behind their home and spy on their neighbors at will. Since their parents’ divorce, money has been very tight, and they can’t afford a television. The girls watch TV through their neighbors’ picture windows, making up their own dialogue as they go along. They also invent wildly as they imagine their neighbor’s lives, especially a somewhat unusual man whose wife is mostly invisible. They idolize their mostly-absent father, who when he’s around is a good dad indeed, but who can’t resist a woman’s charms and whose work keeps him far too busy. He continues to play a large role in their lives, especially as deaths begin to occur in the mountain park behind their home. The two girls are extremely close and have an extensive private life, made up of stories they’ve imagined and adventures they’ve had on their own on the mountain.

Rachel and Patty have always been somewhat outcasts at their school, but when her handsome father appears on TV to talk about the cases, Rachel finds herself on the receiving end of a lot of attention from the popular kids. She opts to leave her sister home and go off with them, spending hours discussing nail polish colors with the girls and making out with her new boyfriend. At this point Patty is gangly and awkward with 2 loves; dogs and basketball. The relationship between the girls and their father is especially poignant, but when his work continues to keep him from seeing Patty’s basketball games, she finds it hard to forgive. As months pass with no murder suspect in sight, their father physically shows the strain, and Rachel evolves a terrible scheme–she will use herself as bait to catch a killer. What follows has ramifications beyond her wildest dreams, and shatters her world. 30 years later, as a grown woman and successful novelist, Rachel again hatches a scheme to smoke out the killer, and again faces ramifications that she had never imagined.

After Her is an excellent novel, dealing deftly and tenderly with a young girl’s coming of age and loss of innocence, presenting us with characters as great and as flawed as the people we see every day. Here we have a great author writing at the top of her form.

Enter to win

I highly recommend this book, and am thrilled to announce one of you can win your own copy (U.S. only). Just start off by entering your email address in the widget below, and leaving a comment telling us what you like about this book.

Email Author    |    Website About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a voracious reader with eclectic tastes who loves being part of the team at 5 Minutes for Books. She's lived in 7 countries and is currently in Oregon, where she spends most of her time with Iraqi refugees. She has 3 teens.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cindy Brooks September 23, 2013 at 2:35 am

I like the combination of the family relationships with the murder storyline.


2 Kerrie Mayans September 23, 2013 at 6:59 am

I like that it is a coming of age story that focuses on the relationship the girl has with her father and others in her family.


3 DEBIJOT September 23, 2013 at 8:41 am

I like that the story deals with family issues.


4 BusyWorkingMama September 23, 2013 at 8:58 am

I would like to read about the relationship between the sisters and the dad.


5 Sheila K. September 23, 2013 at 10:03 am

I love a good murder mystery!


6 Anne September 23, 2013 at 11:29 am

Reading about relationships within a family is fascinating.


7 Jessica To September 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm

It sounds like a book that would keep me interested.


8 Jenna Evans September 23, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I like that this book sounds like a great combination of family drama/relationships, but also a compelling and interesting page turner. I’ve heard lots of good things about it, I need to read something by this author!


9 Annette W {This Simple Mom} September 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Oh my. This sounds intense. :)


10 kristen September 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I love murder mysteries that are intertwined with intense relationship situations


11 Heather September 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Sounds like a good, suspenseful book!


12 Daniel M September 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm

i love a good mystery!


13 Suzy September 24, 2013 at 1:18 am

Would love to read this book. Always love suspense stories.


14 karenk September 24, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I like the storyline ;)


15 Shari September 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

I like that it’s a coming of age story, which I almost always like, but that it’s also a mystery/thriller sort of book, which is my favorite genre. :)


16 Angie September 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I love the suspense.


17 kathy dalton September 25, 2013 at 9:58 pm

i like it becausr it seems so true to life in subject matter


18 marian boll September 26, 2013 at 1:23 am

A novel on family issues always a good subject


19 Staci A September 26, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I like that the characters seem easy to connect to.


20 Anita Yancey September 26, 2013 at 8:03 pm

I really like that it is a mystery and the setting for the story.


21 samantha Wagner September 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I like that it’s a mystery, I love mysterys


22 Linda September 27, 2013 at 3:33 am

I love mysteries and would love to read one from a new, to me, author.


23 Liz September 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Made me think of Rear Window with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly.


24 Mel October 2, 2013 at 10:12 am

I like the mystery part


25 Cathy French October 3, 2013 at 3:45 pm

love mysteries especially when serial killers are included


26 Lori Walker October 4, 2013 at 7:02 am

it seems like a good winter break read


27 Nicole C. October 4, 2013 at 8:43 am

I like that it is a coming of age story. I love them!!


28 Sand October 5, 2013 at 12:55 am

I like that it’s a coming of age story.


29 Diana Hatch October 5, 2013 at 8:53 am

I always like a good mystery!


30 Mihaela Day October 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm

I love the suspense and the drama associated with relationships


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