Saturday, November 10, 2007
Before, After, and Somebody In Between
Garsee, Jeannine. 2007. Before, After, and Somebody In Between.
This book is a good book. But it is essentially the story about a young teen girl with an identity crisis. Her name is Martha. Martha Kowalski. Never has a teen girl hated her life more. Her drunk and neglectful mother. Her mother's abusive boyfriend. Her equally impoverished neighbors living in the tenements. Her school. Her classmates. Nothing at all is going right in her life. She has one or two friends. But their lives are equally messed up. One has a mother dying of AIDS, one has been abandoned my a mother addicted to drugs. The last one also lives in an abusive environment where they beat a toddler. So who would want to be that girl if given another option. Certainly not Martha. When Martha is given--through dire circumstances--the opportunity to transform into Gina Brinkman, she jumps at the chance. Gina lives in a nice neighborhood. A rich neighborhood. Gina goes to an elite school. Gina has nice clothes and a bathroom all her own. (If I recall correctly.) Gina is a material girl. She can have a thousand luxuries that are new to her. And most of all, she feels like she's escaped the harsh realities of her life. But life is never that easy. Never that black and white. Never that clear cut. Who is she really deep down inside? What kind of girl is she?
This book has many ugly sides to it--the alcohol, the drugs, the physical and verbal abuse, sex, violence, etc. Martha is a character that doesn't really embrace the truth if she can get away with a lie. She lies. She lies a lot. Sometimes to other people. Sometimes only to herself. This is another book that shows that actions have consequences. Big consequences. And that life is full of hard choices. Choices you'll have to live with the rest of your life.
Overall, I liked it. It was well-written. This is a very human, very frail, sometimes cruel, sometimes naive narrator.