Official Review: After They Go by J Mercer

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any fiction books or series that do not fit into one of the other categories. If the fiction book fits into one the other categories, please use that category instead.
Forum rules
Authors and publishers are not able to post replies in the review topics.
Post Reply
User avatar
inaramid
Posts: 888
Joined: 04 Nov 2017, 11:22
2019 Reading Goal: 50
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 44
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 77
2017 Reading Goal: 10
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 30
Currently Reading: Siege and Storm
Bookshelf Size: 109
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-inaramid.html
Latest Review: A King Empowered by J R Tomlin

Official Review: After They Go by J Mercer

Post by inaramid » 22 May 2018, 01:05

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "After They Go" by J Mercer.]
Book Cover
3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


After They Go follows a year in the life of the Aaldenbergs, a family whose roots run deep in a small tourist town near Boston. Told from the third-person perspectives of the women in the family, author J. Mercer crafts a heartwarming portrait of love, sacrifice, growing up, and finding oneself.

Gwen, the golden child, has just taken over the family business, a store that generations of Aaldenbergs have kept afloat through the years. This gives her younger sister, Betta, the respite she’s certainly earned after taking care of their dying grandfather. Esmerelda, the youngest, has grand designs for herself as she starts high school. All is well—or so their mother, Wanda, would like to believe. The reality, however, is far from this rosy picture. Gwen is desperate to escape to the city, but responsibility, tradition, and the store’s looming bankruptcy keep her shackled to the town. Betta doesn’t want to rest; she wants to manage the store, something she feels that Gwen has—yet again—taken away from her. Ez’s plan is to be Gwen, and in her misguided quest for acceptance and popularity, she’s starting to lose her own identity. Through it all, Wanda is consumed by her own issues, falling into a depression that renders her deaf and blind to the needs of her children. As the resentment builds up between parent and child, sisters, spouses, and lovers, will the Aaldenbergs fall apart? Or will they come through as a family?

It’s impossible not to be drawn to the characters in this family drama, because whoever you are, it’s easy to find someone here that is just so you. For instance, like Gwen, I’ve found myself giving up the “wants” in my life in favor of the “shoulds.” I’ve felt the same sense of futility and insignificance that Betta had to grapple with. I can understand Ez’s fixation about being liked, for isn’t it something that you can’t really outgrow? I know something of hopelessness as well, so Wanda’s struggle could just as well be my own.

Mercer’s prose is solid, evoking a strong sense of character and place that adds intensity and texture to the narrative. The other personalities that inhabit the pages—the long-suffering boyfriend, the caring neighbor, even the stereotypical mean girl at Ez’s high school—all feel distinct and oh so real. The characterizations are subtle, but the internal turmoil these people undergo was very palpable. I especially find the portrayal of mental health issues like obsessive-compulsive tendencies and depression striking, for we aren’t directly told that the characters have these conditions, but we are shown how these manifest in their lives.

The setting is vividly described as well. The Aaldenbergs’ hometown feels as quaint as you’d expect a small town to be, and the various landmarks—even a dilapidated house that changes Betta’s life—left a lasting impression on my mind.

While Mercer excels in fleshing out relatable characters and depicting the dynamics of their relationships, the interpersonal conflicts propelling the plot felt so overdrawn at some points, as most of them could have been resolved by a simple conversation. While we could argue that this mirrors reality, it still impacted the story’s pacing. There were also a few typographical errors in the text, usually involving spelling or the wrong use of words (e.g., “dependant” instead of “dependent” or “complimentary” instead of “complementary”). These two factors prevent me from giving the book the full score; otherwise, I wouldn’t have hesitated to rate it 4 stars.

I rate After They Go 3 out of 4 stars for its relatable cast of characters, the vivid depiction of small town life, and the sensitive handling of mental health issues. Gwen’s and Betta’s storylines will appeal to fans of women’s fiction, while Ez’s narrative will satisfy those looking for a coming-of-age story. Overall, readers who enjoy family sagas will find After They Go an engaging read.

******
After They Go
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

Like inaramid's review? Post a comment saying so!

User avatar
Sahani Nimandra
Posts: 2045
Joined: 27 Nov 2017, 22:49
2019 Reading Goal: 100
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 24
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 100
2017 Reading Goal: 5
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 5
Favorite Book: Harry Potter and The Sorceress Stone
Currently Reading: Man of the World
Bookshelf Size: 698
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sahani-nimandra.html
Latest Review: I once had a Farm in Ireland by Siggy Buckley
Reading Device: Huawei

Post by Sahani Nimandra » 23 May 2018, 04:33

When I saw the cover illustration I pictured the book and the story but after I read your review it was clearly something else. Sounds like a traditional family where they keep things intact. Deep read. Thank you!
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid! - Jane Austen :techie-studyingbrown:

User avatar
Fuzzy456
Posts: 91
Joined: 01 Mar 2018, 07:08
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 78
Currently Reading: The Clockmaker's Daughter
Bookshelf Size: 100
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-fuzzy456.html
Latest Review: My Ladybird Story by Magus Tor
Reading Device: B00N9ZVN90

Post by Fuzzy456 » 23 May 2018, 06:11

This was a very descriptive book review. I love family sagas as they are so relatable. We can find ourselves, members of our own family, and common problems that we have encountered. The cover and title of the book are misleading indeed. This book sounds great and will be put on my “to read” shelf. Thanks for a great review!

User avatar
kandscreeley
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 8794
Joined: 31 Dec 2016, 20:31
2019 Reading Goal: 95
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 62
Currently Reading: Sunshine at the Academy
Bookshelf Size: 293
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kandscreeley.html
Latest Review: Learning to trust yourself by Lisa Flannigan

Post by kandscreeley » 23 May 2018, 08:13

It's too bad about the editing errors, but this sounds like quite the drama. I think the cover fits the type of book that this sounds like. Not necessarily an easy read, but a calmer pace? I'll have to look at it. Thanks.
Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.
-Louisa May Alcott

User avatar
gen_g
Posts: 2000
Joined: 22 Apr 2018, 10:31
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 63
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-gen-g.html
Latest Review: Poetry by Nicholas Pak

Post by gen_g » 23 May 2018, 09:15

Fuzzy456 wrote: ↑
23 May 2018, 06:11
This was a very descriptive book review. I love family sagas as they are so relatable. We can find ourselves, members of our own family, and common problems that we have encountered. The cover and title of the book are misleading indeed. This book sounds great and will be put on my “to read” shelf. Thanks for a great review!
I agree with fuzzy456! I love characters that are multi-dimensional, as they are definitely more relatable. Thank you for the review!
Latest Review: Poetry by Nicholas Pak

User avatar
crediblereading2
Posts: 995
Joined: 19 Jan 2018, 13:32
Currently Reading: Bitroux
Bookshelf Size: 32
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-crediblereading2.html
Latest Review: SSN Seadragon by J P Ronald

Post by crediblereading2 » 23 May 2018, 15:20

The characters in this book seem to reflect a little of ourselves. I guess we can all relate to them. Sorry about the typographical errors. Very detailed review.

User avatar
NL Hartje
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1261
Joined: 04 Jan 2018, 12:58
2018 Reading Goal: 30
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 143
2017 Reading Goal: 0
Favorite Book: Kushiel's Dart
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 386
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-nl-hartje.html
Latest Review: Looking forward as the Journey continues by George Mills

Post by NL Hartje » 23 May 2018, 15:54

I’m glad the imagery is so vivid. I like the idea of a small town painted well. Thanks for this great review!
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
-Dr. Seuss

User avatar
stacie k
Posts: 899
Joined: 01 Feb 2018, 17:04
2018 Reading Goal: 40
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 57
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 183
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-stacie-k.html
Latest Review: River Kids by Jennie Linnane

Post by stacie k » 23 May 2018, 17:27

I'm a fan of books with well-drawn characters that I can relate to. I'd like to check this one out! Thanks for your review!
“The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable.” Proverbs 15:2a

User avatar
inaramid
Posts: 888
Joined: 04 Nov 2017, 11:22
2019 Reading Goal: 50
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 44
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 77
2017 Reading Goal: 10
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 30
Currently Reading: Siege and Storm
Bookshelf Size: 109
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-inaramid.html
Latest Review: A King Empowered by J R Tomlin

Post by inaramid » 23 May 2018, 20:45

Thanks for dropping by everyone! There's a reason for the title, which will become clear once you've read the story. I could understand why the cover would seem misleading--it's like a mystery, isn't it?--but I think it goes well with the vibe of the town as well as the characters' emotional states at one point or another in the story. :)

User avatar
kfwilson6
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 2061
Joined: 14 Feb 2018, 15:30
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 101
Currently Reading: Lord of Chaos
Bookshelf Size: 298
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kfwilson6.html
Latest Review: The Stone Wall Crossing by Alice Schellhorn Magrane
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by kfwilson6 » 24 May 2018, 15:30

Occasionally I'll immerse myself in a book that centers around family drama, but this sounds a little too run of the mill. I'm wondering if there is any intrigue to this book at all or just the typical family secrets? I definitely thought this was going to be a suspense, which I would have been more excited about. Not really in the mood for this type of book right now. Maybe some other time.

User avatar
inaramid
Posts: 888
Joined: 04 Nov 2017, 11:22
2019 Reading Goal: 50
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 44
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 77
2017 Reading Goal: 10
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 30
Currently Reading: Siege and Storm
Bookshelf Size: 109
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-inaramid.html
Latest Review: A King Empowered by J R Tomlin

Post by inaramid » 24 May 2018, 19:10

kfwilson6 wrote: ↑
24 May 2018, 15:30
Occasionally I'll immerse myself in a book that centers around family drama, but this sounds a little too run of the mill. I'm wondering if there is any intrigue to this book at all or just the typical family secrets? I definitely thought this was going to be a suspense, which I would have been more excited about. Not really in the mood for this type of book right now. Maybe some other time.
It's the latter, I'm afraid. There are some romantic entanglements involving the sisters but nothing close to what you're looking for. Anyway, thanks for reading! I hope you find something that's more to your liking.

User avatar
Libs_Books
Posts: 755
Joined: 13 Feb 2018, 12:54
Favorite Book: The year of the flood
Currently Reading: Mason Dixon
Bookshelf Size: 273
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-libs-books.html
Latest Review: Dont Panic Its Organic by Dr. Andy Lopez

Post by Libs_Books » 26 May 2018, 05:23

Family sagas I can take or leave, but I love fiction that is very rooted in a particular place, and small towns are just fine. I really appreciated your honest appraisal of the ways we can relate to the characters' situations. Still not sure I'm going to put this on the list, but I'm tempted.

User avatar
sanjus
Posts: 937
Joined: 08 May 2018, 12:47
2019 Reading Goal: 21
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 57
2018 Reading Goal: 25
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 56
Currently Reading: Charles' Story
Bookshelf Size: 349
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-sanjus.html
Latest Review: Murdered by James Schannep
Reading Device: B00I15SB16

Post by sanjus » 27 May 2018, 10:06

good review about a book depicting a family drama of a family which lives in a small tourist town. The author making the characters and their lives interesting enough to make it more captivating.
life is only knowing the unknown, we can do this by reading books easily- I believe this is my own quote. If someone quoted this before I am glad to know.

Post Reply

Return to “Other Fiction Forum”