About the Book
Life After by Katie Ganshert is the kind of book that makes you think. About life, and death, and finding purpose after tragedy.
One of the characters in the book says a quote that I feel demonstrates one of the themes that Ms. Ganshert was striving for in her book: “It’s not easy to keep going. It’s not easy to get back up after life knocks you a hard one.”
Autumn Manning, the main character, knows this well. She’s the sole survivor of a train bombing and the book picks up a year after the event. In that time, she’s learned about the people killed and is struggling with survivor’s guilt.
Paul Elliot is the other main character, and his wife died in the train accident. He’s raising their two kids alone now and is trying his best. He avoids mentioning his wife to the kids, which causes problems for him and his daughter.
This book is a well-written and heartbreaking examination of tragedy, loss, survivor’s guilt, and God’s plan for our lives. Questions of “why did this person have to die and why did I get to live” permeate Autumn’s entire story arc, and the resolution of it is so satisfying I nearly cheered—and probably would have if it wasn’t close to midnight when I finished reading it
As a family member, Paul’s grief and guilt is different than Autumn’s, but is also excellently examined. The resolution of his character arc is as emotionally charged as Autumn’s as well and also immensely satisfying.
This book is heart wrenching. Several places had me in tears, and I identified with Autumn more than I want to admit to. Ms. Ganshert has seamlessly woven in real events into her book and the world the characters live in feels very real. All of the characters feel like people you’d meet in real life, and the different stories of the family members of those killed do not feel as if they are there only for Autumn and Paul’s character development—they seem like real people’s stories you’d hear after a tragedy.
I read Life After in one sitting and I cannot say enough about this book. I don’t want to spoil any of the character’s arcs, as discovering their secrets and motivations is an essential part of the reading experience, but I urge you to pick up Ms. Ganshert’s book.
Life After is not easy reading, but it was well worth the emotional upheaval I felt while reading it. I will be pondering this book for a while.
I give this book 5/5 stars for the characters, the examination of the core themes of tragedy, loss, and survivor’s guilt, and the full immersion into the lives of the characters I experienced while reading it. I will be adding Life After to my keeper shelf and know I will return to it when life’s losses get to be too much for me.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Waterbrook Multnomah. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran.