Title: My Life After Now
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Interest: Contemp / 2013 Debut Author
Summary (From Goodreads):
Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it’s all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.
And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family?
Now her life is completely different…every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.
Somehow My Life After Now escaped my attention until a few days ago. Once I found out what it’s about, I instantly wanted to read it. My debate right now is whether to go into detail about Lucy’s “dilemma” since the summary doesn’t state it and it might upset some readers to know prior to reading. That being said, I’m going to go ahead with openly discussing it because I think knowing that piece of information will prompt more readers to pick this debut title up and read it since it’s not an issue that’s often addressed in YA (that I know of).
The main reason I decided to read Jessica Verdi’s debut right away is because it’s about Lucy contracting HIV. I’ve read plenty of YA novels about girls getting pregnant and teen boys dealing with getting girls pregnant, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a teen getting an STD. I’ve never read one about a teen getting HIV. Our teens need to read stories like Lucy’s because 1.) They need to find themselves in a book if they’re also dealing with this and 2.) They need to see that they aren’t immune.
I will say, however, that My Life After Now isn’t preachy. There’s an obvious message present in Jessica Verdi’s novel, but it isn’t off-putting like it so easily could have been. It’s quite accessible and quite enjoyable. I felt Lucy’s anguish, shock, and anxiety. I was reading this during SSR and got to the part when Lucy finds out that she’s positive and wanted to stop reading to start discussing this with my students. Lucy’s emotions became my emotions. I think many of my students will love this book and really start thinking about their actions. Besides the HIV, students will like this book because of the relationships and other conflicts that are present. I’m sure my drama students will appreciate the drama/theater aspect as well.
Overall, My Life After Now is an engaging book with well-developed characters. It’s a fresh story that I can’t wait to share with my students. Jessica Verdi is an author to set your sights on.