Title: Life After
Author: Katie Ganshert
Genre: Christian Fiction
Publishing Date: April 18, 2017
About the Book:
It could have been me.
Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.
A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.
Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.
In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.
I cried. I had to get up and walk around a few times because my eyes were too watery and I couldn’t see the page. Admittedly I can be an emotional person in general when I read, but this one was tough for me. My heart broke for the characters. Katie Ganshert painted such a realistic picture that I felt like I was a real part of it. I can’t imagine losing my spouse/sibling/parent because of a bomb. I also can’t imagine what I would feel like if I was on the train and the sole survivor. The survivor’s guilt that Autumn struggled with throughout the story was very raw and heartrending. It crippled her from being able to live the life she once led.
I really liked how the author developed the relationship between Autumn and the Elliott family. She started out wanting to help a 12-year-old girl (Reese) mourning the death of her mother but ended up touching the lives of the whole little family. I won’t share too much detail to prevent spoiling, but I will say that it was “the little things” that slowly help the family (and Autumn) to heal, and some of those “little things” are exactly what brought tears to my eyes!
One thing that added to the emotion was the filming of the tribute to honor those who perished in the explosion. Autumn wasn’t only struggling with survivor’s guilt, but the guilt that she doesn’t remember what happened on that day or remember everyone on the train with her. She wants them to be remembered. It’s with pushing from both Reese and one of her sisters that Autumn sets out to make the tribute happen. The memories shared by the family members made it all seem so real. My particular favorite story was Lazarus as shared by his wife. They had been married for 65 years and shared many loving memories together.
I am not afraid to cry while reading a book. To me, a good book is one that can make me feel something. Whether I am laughing, crying, gasping in shock, whatever it may be, it’s more than just words on a page. This story will make you smile and probably cause tears, but it will certainly grip you emotionally. I can’t recommend it enough! It’s definitely being added to my favorites pile!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book in hopes of an honest review. I was not obligated to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions expressed were mine alone.
Age Appropriateness: Content-wise this book is pretty clean but there are some very emotional scenes that touch on difficult subjects. There is some talk about infidelity. Although there is a bit of romance it’s very minor. Although it’s clean, the subject matter throughout really isn’t geared towards younger readers. It’s an amazing book, but I don’t think it’s one I’d recommend it to the youth.