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Afterlife: Book summary and reviews of Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

Afterlife

by Julia Alvarez

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez X
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Apr 7, 2020
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

The first novel for adults in almost fifteen years from the internationally bestselling author of In the Time of the Butterflies follows Antonia Vega, a retired English professor struggling to deal with the death of her husband, the appearance of a pregnant undocumented teen on her doorstep, and the disappearance of her sister.

Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, has had the rug pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves—lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack—but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words.

Afterlife is a compact, nimble, and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including—maybe especially—members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A stunning work of art that reminds readers Alvarez is, and always has been, in a class of her own." —Elizabeth Acevedo, National Book Award-winning author of the New York Times bestseller The Poet X

"The queen is back with the exact novel we need in this fraught era. A powerful testament of witness and humanity written with audacity and authority." - Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author of The House of Broken Angels

"Ravishing and heartfelt, Afterlife explores the complexities of familial devotion and tragedy against a backdrop of a world in crisis, and the ways in which we struggle to maintain hope, faith, compassion and love. This is Julia Alvarez at her best and most personal." - Jonathan Santlofer, author of The Widower's Notebook

"From the very beginning, Julia Alvarez has proven herself a wise and funny writer with a sharp eye and ear for the joys and obligations of love and family. Now, in Afterlife, she applies her gifts to last things, as her Antonia struggles to move beyond the consolations of poetry and embrace the buzzing, blooming confusion of the world again." - Stewart O'Nan, author of Emily, Alone and Henry, Himself

The information about Afterlife shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Nancy K. (Perrysburg, OH)

Small book that is filled with wisdom
Antonia, a retired English Professor, is recently windowed. She is doing her best to move forward in life but troubles and memories keep piling up. Her troubled sister is missing, a young pregnant Mexican immigrant begs for Antonia's help and what can Antonia do to help or better yet what should she do.

Powerful questions that will appeal to any Book Club members that choose to read this book which I hope they do. The author makes you laugh and cry as she tells this story. I highly recommend this book!

Julie R. (Woodland, CA)

Afterlife
In the book Afterlife, our main character Antonia Vega is trying to deal with the sudden loss of her husband, Sam, when life throws her a several curve balls, retirement, an older sister with mental health issues goes missing, sibling drama, and an undocumented teen at her doorstep.

Antonia admits that she is not the best person to deal with these problems and out of the two of them; Sam was the one to jump in and help others in need. Throughout the book we see how Antonia uses her memories of Sam and what he would have done in those situations to help others. I loved Sam's mother saying "Let's see what love can do".

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will recommend it to my book club.

Shelley S. (Great Neck, NY)

Afterlife by Julia Alverez
Afterlife is a thoughtful, nuanced book whose title conveys the great changes in its characters' identities - only some associated with death and mourning and others with longing and an immigrant's sense of being "other". Antonia has relied on words and literature to guide her and her frequent quotes reflect her life before the loss of her husband and her retirement. Her journey away from being the stable rule follower to bold and illegal acts feels credible and powerful. The external challenges and crises which arise stimulate the need to move forward which she ultimately can do successfully. The writing is poignant at times and sharply political at others. I would very much recommend this book which used subtlety and emotional detail to tell a complex multifaceted and often sad story.

Rosanne S. (Franklin Square, NY)

Afterlife
I have read and enjoyed Alvarez's books before but none were as impactful as this. She authentically portrays all the emotions one feels after losing someone they truly love. I believe that anyone who has had a current loss will appreciate her approach to understanding how difficult a period of life it is.

Her approach to the present day suffering of immigrants in this country gives insight to how awful it is for the migrant trying to survive. To date, I haven't read anything written from their point of view.

She struggles with many issues and thinks to herself that it would be easier to just not get involved. I am sure that many in society today are taking the same approach. Afterlife makes the reader think about not what is right or wrong but about what is important and humane.

I highly recommend Afterlife not to just the grieving reader but to the socially confused one as well.

Sandra L. (Delray Beach, FL)

Afterlife
On surface, a very easy read. Antonia is reeling from her husband's death. She looks to him for guidance through the many upsets in her life.

Having lost a Mom and two siblings within the past 3 years, I too have found great comfort in 'mind-talking' to them thus keeping them 'alive' thru the afterlife. I guess we all do that...

This novel is filled with ethical questions left for the reader to answer and would be suitable for book clubs. Loved the ending!

Elizabeth K. (Naples, FL)

Afterlife
Life goes on. Perhaps differently than one's master plan. After newly retired college professor Antonia's husband, Sam suddenly dies, she faces living her shattered life. She finds herself facing many side shows. There is a strong Latino bond of sisterhood with her three scattered sisters. Heartbreaking decisions must be made without dishonoring a sister's turf.

What does she do when an undocumented young girl shows up at her door? How can she protect other undocumented men who live in her area?

Life as she once knew it is shattered, but it can go on in a different way after it is put back together.

...2 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Julia Alvarez Author Biography

Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. She has taught and mentored writers in schools and communities across America and, until her retirement in 2016, was a writer-in-residence at Middlebury College.

Her work has garnered wide recognition, including a Latina Leader Award in Literature from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, and inclusion in the New York Public Library's program "The Hand of the Poet: Original Manuscripts by 100 Masters, from John Donne to Julia Alvarez."

In the Time of the Butterflies, ...

... Full Biography
Link to Julia Alvarez's Website

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