Afterlife by Julia Alvarez


cover175515-mediumThe first adult novel in almost fifteen years by the internationally bestselling author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

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?

I finished this beautiful book several days ago and it continues to call to me. I keep dipping back into it to re-read passages. Some might dismiss this as taking advantage of the current political issues around immigration and human rights, and to those skeptics I say f*** you. This is a haunting, beautifully written story about life after tremendous loss, what it means to be human, and to recognize and celebrate humanity wherever you find it. Here, it’s a pregnant, undocumented girl who is more than a statistic. She is a real person who needs help and who, in turn, helps Antonia find a new path.

This should be popular with book clubs and community reading programs.

Highly recommended.

Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Published By: Algonquin Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy