Sometimes you just need to read a book that you can get through in one sitting. And that is exactly what I got with Jessica Verdi's debut My Life After Now. There are so many reasons why I read this one so quickly: It hooked me from the beginning, it was an emotional read that had me in tears most of the time, it was about something that not a lot of authors have written about.
I wanted this review to be a completely spoiler free, and not reveal what Lucy is dealing with, I don't know that it's supposed to be this grand secret but it's not in the synopsis and I thought I shouldn't, but all you have to do is go to the book's Goodreads page and that'll give everything away. So be warned.
First things first- this is an issues book. So if you are
Lucy our female protagonist has a pretty charmed life. Two dad's who love her, she's got the perfect boyfriend and she's a rising star ( a shoo in for her school's production of Romeo and Juliette). But all of that comes crashing down when she's not cast as Juliette and her boyfriend dumps her for her competition and on top of all that her estranged mother shows up so Lucy loses it. And like most teenagers, Lucy goes out for a night on the town with her two best friends. It is here that Lucy makes some not so great decisions and ends up spending the night with a stranger and it is here that she contracts the HIV virus.
What is important to realize and Verdi does a fantastic job of relaying is that being HIV positive does not mean you have AIDS. They are not one in the same. HIV will someday morph into AIDS, but it's not AIDS. As an adult reader reading this young adult novel, I knew that, but I couldn't explain to you how it the two things were not the same. My Life After Now does a fantastic job of differentiating the two in a way that most teenagers will be able to understand.
Lucy's reaction upon finding out she has contracted the virus is extremely heartbreaking and naturally she enters a state of denial. Initially this bothered me ( I remember yelling at her- you need to tell you dads they can help you). But realistically Lucy needed to come to terms with this on her own. I was little frustrated though with who she chose to tell first- this did not sit well with me. When Lucy did tell her dads what was going on in her life was one of the most heart wrenching scenes I have ever read. I could feel her fathers anger, their heartbreak and their devastation. Their baby's life was changed forever and they couldn't do anything about it. Thinking about it now, causes me to blink back tears. Lucy's fathers are one of my favourite things about this book. They take charge in a way that Lucy cannot. They are her rocks and it's a beautiful thing.
Overall, My Life After Now is a fantastic novel that I think all teens...everyone should read. HIV/AIDS isn't just for drug users and people living on the street, it doesn't discriminate that way. It could happen to you and Jessica Verdi forces that home with this book.
~Happy Reading Everyone!