cover image After the Fall

After the Fall

Kate Hart. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-30269-6

High school seniors Raychel and Matt have been best friends forever, and any day now, Matt is going to tell her that he loves her. But while he’s dawdling, his younger brother, Andrew—the designated screw-up to Matt’s responsible A student—makes his move. In addition to the questions of brotherly rivalry, secrecy, and family dynamics introduced by this turn of events, Raychel is also struggling with a nonconsensual sexual encounter and worrying about her future, since there’s no money for college. Hart’s debut novel has a lot going for it—well-defined and believable major and minor characters, in particular—as well as a lot going on. The book takes up consent, slut shaming, issues of class and (to a lesser extent) race, unrequited love, and competition between siblings—and then adds a tragic accident and the resulting guilt and fractures. Although it can feel overloaded as a result, Hart holds it all together and closes with an ending that retains a measure of hope without becoming unrealistically perfect. Ages 14–up. Agent: Adriann Ranta, Foundry Literary + Media. (Jan.)