cover image The After Life

The After Life

Daniel Ehrenhaft, . . Penguin/ Razorbill, $8.99 (265pp) ISBN 978-1-59514-080-7

Ehrenhaft's (Drawing a Blank ) offbeat book about three damaged teens on an out-of-control road trip manages to be simultaneously funny and tragic. When their father dies suddenly, twins Kyle and Liz, and half-brother Will (from their father's first marriage and whom the man barely acknowledged) find themselves in a Florida law office watching a DVD. In it, their father not only comically announces, "I'm dead!," but also tells Will he can have $2 million—much less than the twins inherit—if he can drive the man's Volvo from Miami to New York City in 48 hours. (Will's uncle crashed his car—perhaps intentionally—after 9/11, and Will has yet to learn to drive.) As the siblings embark on this bizarre road trip, each works through tricky feelings towards their father and each other. Sociopath Kyle resents Will, Liz wants to help Will, and Will mostly drinks, takes drugs and passes out. The insanity only accelerates: Kyle learns that his business partner is cheating him out of his share from, their prep school dating Web site, unless he can date Liz; Will and Liz take Ecstasy at a party, share a slow dance and kiss; and when the three finally reach New York, they discover their dad has one trick left. Readers will almost certainly feel compelled to finish this surreal trip, even if, at the end, they are nearly as exhausted as the protagonists. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)