From Jess Verdi:
My writer friends always tell me they can spot a “Jess book” a mile away.
[Jess Book (jes-boo k) noun: A young adult novel that approaches a super serious subject in a light, hopeful way.]
My Life After Now is the epitome of a Jess book. Because it’s about HIV/AIDS, it is of course extremely serious and sad at times, and some would say even envelope-pushing, as HIV—particularly HIV contracted from unprotected sex—isn’t a topic that has been covered very much (or at all) in YA thus far.
But here’s the thing: the book is not just about HIV. It’s about a character. A character who has a very full life. And I felt strongly that if I was going to write a story about this issue, I had to do my character justice—she couldn’t just be a walking statistic.
My main character, Lucy, is very involved in theater. So one of the main settings of the book is her high school drama club—and all that entails. A Diva with a capital D, a Broadway chorus boy turned director, and the gorgeous male lead who all the girls—and some of the boys—lust after. Lucy also has some amazing friends—from hopeless romantic Courtney to sassy, boy-crazy Max. And then Lucy meets Roxie—a girl who’s so damn upbeat all the time that you’d never guess how tough her life has really been.
Additionally, I tried to infuse even the most serious of scenes with bits of lightness and humor, to balance out the intensity of the moment and explore what a teenage girl might actually be thinking in these sorts of situations. One of my favorite moments in the book is when Lucy is in line, waiting for her HIV results. The woman in line ahead of her asks Lucy to watch her two little kids while she goes in to get her own results, and suddenly Lucy, who has never babysat before, finds herself having to rein in two very lively, curious young children while she’s waiting for what may be the biggest news of her life.
Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy Lucy’s story!
RT Book Reviews is calling MY LIFE AFTER NOW “a gem of a novel” told with “unflinching honesty and unfaltering compassion,” while Publishers Weekly is praising Verdi’s ability to tell Lucy’s story with “realism and hope.”
Informative and uplifting, MY LIFE AFTER NOW tells the intensely relatable story of Lucy, a sixteen-year-old who makes a mistake – and the consequences that follow. How will Lucy face her family? What will she tell her friends? Will anyone ever be able to love her again?
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