Sunday 11 July 2021

Review | After the Rain by Natália Gomes

Published by HQ Young Adult on July 8, 2021

Alice and Jack go to the same school, but other than that they have nothing in common. Jack is social and sporty and loves his marathons, climbing mountains and anything fitness related. Alice is more of an introvert and is happy with her books and her own company. She’s moved away so many times that she no longer even tries to make friends. Jack and Alice couldn’t be more different, except for one day in Leicester Square, they’re in the same place at the same time, at the scene of a bombing. On that day, both their lives change forever, and only hope will see them through.

After the Rain by Natália Gomes is a beautiful and moving young adult novel where true friendship shines through in the aftermath of a terror attack. The bombing sees both Alice and Jack left with health issues – Jack has a serious physical injury and Alice begins to struggle with her mental health, anxious and panicky due to her memories of the attack – the sounds, the weather, the claustrophobia… The way the author merges the story of these two characters, who would have paid no attention to each other before the bombing, was lovely to read and their blossoming friendship is tender and emotional. It had its setbacks, but this simply made it all the more real.

The narrative is set at a fast pace with short chapters alternating between the perspectives of Alice and Jack. The storytelling from both characters was engaging and they were easy people to care for, seeing the trauma they were going through due to a selfish and horrific attack. The book progresses quickly. I do think that at times some of the chapters could have been a bit longer. There were moments in the book that could have been expanded on, and maybe could have progressed a bit slower. However, I do think that the quick pacing gave the book more light, and helped the author to represent mental health and disability in a honest way without it becoming too difficult a read. I read this book in two sittings and found myself still thinking of Alice and Jack when I had finished.

Rather than focus too much on the bombing itself, in After the Rain, Natália Gomes explores the impact an event like this could have on the rest of your life. The author writes with real honesty and somehow manages to make this an uplifting read despite not hiding away from the gritty reality of such a tragic, life-changing attack. Just like the stunning cover image portrays, through friendship there is always hope. I found myself moved by every chapter as Jack and Alice try and come to terms with a future they would not have chosen. As they attempt to face up to their individual feelings of guilt, regret and loss, and learn how to rebuild their lives, this poignant tale shows that whilst life is not perfect, with hope, everything may just turn out okay in the end.

Review copy provided by the publisher - this was my honest review.     

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