cover image Aftershock


Kelly Easton. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $16.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-0052-8

Seventeen-year-old Adam, an only child, enjoys a comfortable and happy life with his parents, who own a bookstore in Bristol, R.I. (""It was like the three of us were siblings""). On a return trip from Idaho, where they attended a peace protest, their car collides with a deer. Adam is uninjured, but his parents are killed (they had not been wearing seat belts). The shock of their deaths leaves Adam speechless (""I didn't have amnesia exactly.... It was just that things weren't connecting in my brain""). Adam leaves the scene before help arrives, and because he cannot speak, he has no way of contacting his aunt. For a few weeks he lives with a young woman, but after the words ""go home"" pop into his head, he hitchhikes his way back to Rhode Island. The drivers he encounters are sometimes polite but more often cruel. Easton's (The Life History of a Star) technique of shifting between the present and the past, through Adam's first-person narrative, allows readers to understand more about him and his life before the accident, including his sense of humor and insight. (In describing the moment when he first truly talks to his high school crush, he says, ""It was one of those rare moments where life hands you what you most want."") The author leaves readers with the knowledge that there are still challenges ahead for Adam, but nothing he can't handle. Ages 12-up.