Have you ever asked why? Not like a small child asking why, but why disasters happen. This is a question that the main character, Autumn Manning, asks herself daily in the book Life After by Katie Ganshert.
Autumn was the sole survivor from a train that blew up. Twenty-two other people were killed but Autumn survived. She has wondered why for an entire year. Autumn feels such guilt that she doesn’t even attend the memorial and dedication of the fountain on the year anniversary of the event.
Also thinking about the crash for a whole year is Reese Elliott. Her mother succumbed in the crash, and Reese had been writing letters to Autumn for the entire year. Immediately after the accident, Autumn had been misidentified as Reese’s mother, Vivian. Paul, Reese’s father, had rushed to the hospital and corrected the mistake.
Reese and Autumn meet when Reese runs away and they decide to make a video to help everyone deal with their grief, and to heal themselves. The lessons they learn as they interview survivors are not only for them but can help us as well.
Characters and Setting
Autumn Manning is a believable character. She faces the guilt she feels with grace. She approaches each victim’s family members with love. She expects to find them not liking her but finds that through the stories they share she grows in not only her belief in her self but in her faith. In the end she fits the comparison she makes of herself as not only a phoenix but of Lazarus.
The members of the Elliott family each have their own secrets. Paul doesn’t realize that Reese knows many things that she knows about her mother. Reese has tried to protect not only her father but her younger brother as well. She has tried to change her own memories of her mother to make her better than she was.
The stories the other victim’s family members share show the love that so many of us what in life. The stories of healing from the crash and of lives lived to the fullest show Autumn and Reese how to love life and should be an example to all of us.
I particularly enjoyed this book being from Illinois. I recognized many of the scenes in the story. I have also traveled on the trains and wondered about the stories of the other passengers. Most of us do just ride the train without carrying on a conversation with each other.
Life After by Katie Ganshert is a book that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It is a story that has characters that everyone can relate to. The stories of survivors, family members and those who lost their lives in the wreck have something to teach all of us.
I received this book from Penguin Random House, Waterbrook in exchange for my unbiased review.