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4.1 233
by Amy Efaw

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An infant left in the trash to die. A teenage mother who never knew she was pregnant . . .

Before That Morning, these were the words most often used to describe straight-A student and star soccer player Devon Davenport: responsible, hardworking, mature. But all that changes when the police find Devon home sick from school as they investigate the case of an


An infant left in the trash to die. A teenage mother who never knew she was pregnant . . .

Before That Morning, these were the words most often used to describe straight-A student and star soccer player Devon Davenport: responsible, hardworking, mature. But all that changes when the police find Devon home sick from school as they investigate the case of an abandoned baby. Soon the connection is made?Devon has just given birth; the baby in the trash is hers. After That Morning, there?s only one way to define Devon: attempted murderer.

And yet gifted author Amy Efaw does the impossible? she turns Devon into an empathetic character, a girl who was in such deep denial that she refused to believe she was pregnant. Through airtight writing and fast-paced, gripping storytelling, Ms. Efaw takes the reader on Devon?s unforgettable journey toward clarity, acceptance, and redemption.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
-Efaw captures Devon+s mortification, denial, and despair, shifting fluidly between her present experiences in a juvenile jail and the terrifying night a baby inexplicably arrived.+ -Kirkus Reviews
Barbara A. Ward
Fifteen-year-old Devon is the last person anyone would expect to be in trouble. A role model for others, she makes good grades and is a soccer star. But Devon has kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone, even herself. Alone in her Tacoma apartment, she gives birth, stuffs the child in a garbage bag, and throws it—along with the trash in the place—in a dumpster. The police quickly arrest her for attempted murder, and she is sent to a juvenile detention facility while her fate is determined. Her attorney Dom, who wants her charged as a juvenile, not an adult, encourages Devon to peel off the protective layers to get to the truth. Told through a series of effective graphic flashbacks in which Devon distances herself by thinking of the newborn babe as IT, this book prompts much thought about guilt and conscience and our assumptions about others. Reviewer: Barbara A. Ward
Publishers Weekly
According to the author's note, “approximately one baby is abandoned to a trash can every day in the United States.” This “dumpster baby” phenomenon is the subject of Efaw's (Battle Dress) chilling sophomore novel. For optimal (if expected) shock effect, the perceived heartless mother, 15-year-old Devon Davenport, is a poster child overachiever—star goalie for the soccer team, exceptional student, well-liked by all. But when she becomes pregnant, her carefully chiseled world turns in on itself. Fueled by a mixture of intense denial about her predicament and disgust at her behavior, Devon tries to absolve herself of what happened “That Night” by pretending “IT” (how Devon refers to the baby throughout) never happened. The result—and the subsequent story of her arrest and prosecution—is harrowing, if melodramatic at times. The scenes between Devon, portrayed as a frozen and shattered victim of her own choices and background, and her lawyer, Dom (especially during the trial), are strong and resonate like the best courtroom dramas. It's an emotionally wrenching story that will keep readers' attention through its surprising conclusion. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
Efaw assigns herself a seemingly impossible task . . . yet somehow pulls it off in this successful button-pusher.
Children's Literature - Michele C. Hughes
For those who wonder how a teenage girl can abandon her baby in the trash, this story attempts to flesh out the often one-dimensional character the evening news depicts. Fifteen year-old Devon has spent a long and lonely night of labor and delivery on her bathroom floor, and she is still in shock from the reality of the pregnancy she has spent months denying. When a neighbor discovers the baby in a dumpster, a police search of the neighborhood reveals Devon bleeding on her sofa. The consequences that result from her choice to try to hide her baby are sobering: a handcuffed journey from the hospital to a juvenile detention center, a court date, high school classes at a juvenile facility filled with menacing young women, and finally a critically important hearing to determine if Devon will be tried as an adult. The characterization of Devon shows her to be an achiever, a talented athlete, and a star student, so it takes some doing to reconcile those surprising traits with her criminal deed. The reader wants to root for her and indeed is primed to understand how she could do this, but between Devon's reticence to open up to her attorney (or anyone, really) and the author's use of the third person viewpoint, it is difficult to connect with her, to feel what she feels. At some points, the details of Devon's journey are so specific—the medical exam, the court proceedings, the attorney-client conversations—that the book lacks heart and art. It reads more like a guide to what to expect when you do not know you are pregnant and less of the intriguing narrative it might have been, had there been more pathos. Reviewer: Michele C. Hughes
VOYA - Hannah Preisinger
This suspenseful story about a young girl is full of heartbreak and fear. Scared and without her mother, who is unreliable at best, Devon has no one to whom she can turn. The book paints a canvas of murky confusion as she battles the state and her own self denial. Readers will be shocked by the sharpness of the characters, the newspapers, court, and the reality of the plot itself. Reviewer: Hannah Preisinger, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Nancy K. Wallace
When police officers find Devon lying on a blood-soaked couch in her mother's apartment, she barely remains conscious long enough to hear them read her rights. In a fog of pain and weakness, she hears them describe the newborn baby found in a plastic bag in the trash can in the alley. In the emergency room, Devon insists that she is only having a bad period until, restrained and sedated, undeniable proof is revealed that she has given birth. A few days later, she is taken to the juvenile detention center where she awaits a hearing. With the help of her attorney, Devon gradually remembers her first and only sexual encounter, her secret pregnancy, and the nightmarish birth that she endured alone in her bathroom. Devon has distinguished herself as a high school honor student and a star soccer player. Afraid of following in her single mom's footsteps, Devon lies to her doctor, her coach and her friends to hide her pregnancy, cutting herself off from any available help. Only her complete denial of her pregnancy and the birth transforms Devon into a sympathetic character. With horror, readers realize that their worst fears are confirmed. There are no extenuating circumstances that excuse Devon's behavior. She bundled her newborn infant into a garbage bag to still its cries and erase its existence. Chilling, realistic and horrifying, this book examines clinical denial in a young girl. Graphic and heart-wrenching, this book belongs in every high school and public library. Reviewer: Nancy K. Wallace
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Through flashbacks, listeners learn that 15-year-old Devon has been a good student and an outstanding soccer player, and her life is all about control and not messing up. But as the story (Viking, 2009) by Amy Efaw opens, Devon is found by the police lying on her family sofa, bloody after giving birth to a baby which was found in the dumpster by a passerby. The story moves through Devon's arrest, her confusion about what is happening to her, and the preliminary court proceedings to determine whether she will be tried as an adult for attempted murder or in juvenile court. Rebecca Soler does a fine job of varying her voice to reflect Devon's various states of consciousness and conscience. Most prominent is the flatness of Devon's voice as she responds to the demands and interactions of those around her, such as her lawyer, who loses patience at Devon's resistance to assist in her defense. Soler also captures the teen's softness as Devon recollects the romantic encounter that led to her pregnancy and then quickly switches to a harsher tone as Devon reflects that she doesn't want to be like her own irresponsible mother. This is an emotional, compelling listen, as the details of the birth are told in great detail and Devon often seems like an observer rather than a participant.—Edith Ching, Washington Latin Public Charter School, DC
Kirkus Reviews
Devon, a perfect student and soccer star, can't explain how she didn't know about her pregnancy or how she could put IT, bloody and wailing, in a trash bag and carry IT out to a dumpster. Efaw captures Devon's mortification, denial and despair, shifting fluidly between her present experiences in a juvenile jail and the terrifying night a baby inexplicably arrived. As her no-nonsense lawyer pushes for answers, readers experience gripping flashbacks alongside Devon. Mounting tension culminates only when Devon finally faces her entire, horrific act. The author constructs powerful, pressurized scenes inside the girls' detention center as well, filling it with believable, disturbing characters, rigid rules and the metallic echoes of lock-downs. Authentic dialogue and pithy writing allow teens to feel every prick of panic, embarrassment and fear. They also quickly understand how Devon could delude herself for so long: No one would want to emulate Devon's mother, a salacious, brassy man-hunter who got knocked up as a teen. Young adults with smoldering parental resentment or with fixations on perfection will understand Devon's devastation at losing a cultivated future. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.20(d)
HL700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years


What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
-Efaw captures Devon+s mortification, denial, and despair, shifting fluidly between her present experiences in a juvenile jail and the terrifying night a baby inexplicably arrived.+ -Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author

Amy Efaw, a former Army officer and freelance journalist, lives with her family in Denver, Colorado. This is her second novel.

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After 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 233 reviews.
Lauren817 More than 1 year ago
After seeing After in a publishing catalog back in December, I just knew I had to read it! The "dumpster baby" phenomenon, which is the book's main focus, was both interesting and scary real. Before starting this book, I hadn't really heard or read many news stories about this topic. So, I was intrigued to see how a case like this would go through the courts and the reasons behind the mother's choice to leave her own child in a dumpster. Devon was a character that I did come to like and understand her reasoning behind her choice, even if it did take me most of the book. I liked how Amy portrayed in her in way where she didn't glamorize her situation and make it go away, but instead made you see what the consequences from Devon's "dumpster baby" through her own eyes. Also, one thing that really got to me, was how Devon was the ordinary girl on a fast track to greatness, because she was an amazing soccer player, had lots of friends, and fantastic grades. Though, when she finds out she's with child, she flips and denies to herself that she is, leaving her to make the choice she did. What I'm trying to say with this, is that could happen to any of us out there. We could be what people think is "perfect" and still manage to screw it up with one bad choice. It just amazed me. The writing was also fabulous. I give Amy major props for how much research she probably did to give us this a story that tells nothing but the truth in what would happened in this kind of situation. I loved seeing the whole court room scenes and the ones between Dom and Devon because I felt like I was right there with them, witnessing the whole thing. Though, the one thing that kind of ticked me off about this book was the ending. Even though it did conclude the main problem the characters face in the book, it lead so many others to still be swirling around in my head. Overall, After is startling real book told in a way that's honest and raw. I can't suggest this book enough to teens and adults all around. I truly look forward to reading more by Ms. Efaw! Grade: A
PatriciaJL More than 1 year ago
Devon is a star soccer player, with hopes and even a chance to make it to the Olympics. Devon has over a 4.0 GPA. She follows the rules and never breaks them. She is known to be the perfect student and teenager. That is until one morning her world is shattered and turned upside down when two cops knock on her door. They have found a newborn baby dieing in a trash can behind her apartment complex. She has no idea why they are knocking on her door... Why would she have any knowledge about a dieing baby?? Devon is arrested when the cops notice that she has just given birth. But Devon doesn't remember this and does not know what is going on, let alone why she is arrested. After spending some time in the hospital, almost close to death from the loos of blood, she is sent to a Juvenile Detention Center where she is to remain until the courts can decide whether to charge her as an adult or a child for Attempted Murder, Child Abandonment, and Assault. While this story is clearly about the social issue of mothers dumping their babies in the trash, Amy Efaw's book is more about a girl's journey to finding out the truth of what she really did, and thus who she really is. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Devon committed this crime. The question is, did she know what she was doing while doing it... Most of the story takes place in the Juvenile Detention Center, where Devon meets many different teenage girls, there for many different reasons. By learning a bit more about these girls, Devon finds a little bit more about herself. During her time, you [as the reader:] are also given glimpses into Devon's past to find the events of what really happened: the father of the baby, when she started to feel the symptoms of pregnancy, how she alienated her friends, how she was in denial of everything, and most importantly the morning she gave birth. Amy Efaw bluntly pushes the question of whether Devon is a good character or a bad character, and what will happen to her, in your face. This book is raw in detail and by focusing on a real issue that occurs today, you are left affected in many different ways. I personally enjoyed this book - it had all the right qualities and aspects of a Teen-Social-Issue book (as I call them). I felt for Devon throughout the entire book, while at the same time, knowing she was in the wrong. I also felt uncomfortable as Amy Efaw describes details of gruesome but real events. I loved how Amy Efaw pushed this issue into my face and never backed down. A must read!
emma_marin_miller More than 1 year ago
I consider myself an avid reader, and I've read many teen books. Although, "After" doesn't make my list of good books. I felt like the relationship between Devon and her mom was cliche. I would've have liked for Efaw to explore the tension between the too. I'm also a soccer player in a very competitive league like what Devon was said to be a part of, but the chance that a coach wouldn't notice a drastic change in one of his star player's bodies is slim to none. Every line of dialogue felt forced. On a positive note, though, I felt scared for Devon throughout the whole book, and I didn't want to believe myself that Devon had done the things she was charged with. Devon's character development was obviously something Efaw worked hard at, and it showed.
Lizzyloves More than 1 year ago
In this story, Devon, a teenager on the verge of womanhood is thrown into life's ugly grasp by getting pregnant. She is then forced to make a cruel choice to throw away her newborn baby girl, leading to her arrest. Throughout the novel there are a couple of themes, Devon's mother and her newfound friend Karma. Devon's mother not only plays an important part in her life, but also in Devon's choice to throw away her child. Her mother had Devon when she was in high school, and then spent the rest of her life with flings instead of relationships. Devon, not wanting to end her life like her mother, tried everything possible to stop there ever parallel lives, that included the unthinkable. Karma on the other hand showed the internal struggle Devon was facing, and Karma pointed out that while she wore her scars on the outside, Devon wore her's on the inside. There was one major message in the story: It does not matter whether anyone else thinks you are innocent or guilty, it is how you feel, as Devon came to realize at the end of the story. That is one thing I really liked about this book, and also how it gave you another side to all of the news stories you have heard. It added humanity to the seemingly inhumane, a reason behind the actions. What I did not like, is how Devon's thought process worked. Her good judgement was delayed and hard to understand at the end, it was also a little cliff hanger. Leaving the reader wanting more. I believe all teenagers and adults should read this book, it is one of the most raw, in depth novels I have ever read. If you want the other side of the story, read this, and sneak a peek at the lives of teenagers who make bad decisions. Overall, this is a fantastic book and if you like this book, I would also suggest The Secret Life of The Bees and A Long Way Gone.
SET91 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed and highly recommend this book! Honestly when I read the summary I didn't think that I would get into it very well, but once I started reading I couldn't put it down! It is a very intense and emotional read. Before reading After I hadn't read much about "dumpster babies." This book really opened my eyes to this problem and gave me a passion to learn more. I hope that more people will read this book and be influenced to try to help stop the "dumpster baby" problem. Also anyone who is going into Social Work or Criminal Justice fields I believe would definitely like this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read this book in paperback after my sister convinced our dad to get it. I had no idea what it was about, but decided to read it after she was done. One word: beautiful. It was beautiful in a kind of bittersweet way. I never felt like the conflict was completely resolved. You just knew it was for the best, but you couldn't help but want Devon to reunite with her baby. But this isn't that kind of story. When the child grows older, she will be told of how she survived the situation in which her "mother" tried to "kill" her. Devon isn't her mom, and she just couldn't raise a child at this age. She just couldn't. To her, she was still a virgin. The possibility of being pregnant was never even a possibility, let alone considered. Yet the only thing I wish was explained more would be the "father" of the child. How did he feel that a living being that was biologically "his" almost died from the other person who was in the same situation, yet closer? How did he feel that this person was someone he'd known? I'd have been fully satisfied if at least one of these questions were addressed. When I neared the end of the book, I began to go into a state I can only describe as near-depression. I became sadder and just felt like doing nothing and saying nothing. I walked around with my nose in a book, and a bad attitude. Finally, I finished he book and felt empty. So I tried to bring up my spirits with a nice shower, and warm leftovers. The best kind of books are those that can get a physical or emotional reaction from you. Without that, they are just words printed on dead trees. This book is a masterpiece and I recommend it to those of the appropriate age in their early teens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im only on chapter three but its cool how they describe the setting because i live in tacoma, intern at tacoma general (the hospital devon was admitted to) & live right behind Wright Park! Its like i know exactly where she is throughout the couple chapters ive read so far
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the begining it was a good story. I couldnt put it down but towards the middle the story just draged on about the girl's days in jail, that got boring fast. I found my self just skipping chapters.
Ruby95 More than 1 year ago
This book was quite good I'm going to be honest. But the end was a total killer for me, I was expecting something a little bit more crazy. Also the story line was totally not predictable at all so if you want an unpredictable book check this one out.
MaggieMcKickButt More than 1 year ago
I am halfway through this book and so far it is really good. All I can really say is WOW! I dont know if i could do what Devon did. When i first picked up this book to see what it was about, i thought it was a pretty cool book. Then i read the inside cover and i wwas blown away. " Straight A student, soccer player, very responsible...." It sounds quite familiar. Sounds kind of like myself. Im not sure what drove Devon to do what she did yet, but im very curious as to why it happened in the first place. The is a very good book and i recommend it 100% It is a verrrrrrry good book.
Sandy5 5 months ago
I can’t believe I listened to this novel to the very end because the longer that I listened to it, the more irritating this novel became. It was very frustrating to listen to Devon as she denied any wrongdoing when clearly everything pointed directly at her. Clearly her body had just given birth, and clearly, she doesn’t have the baby with her and clearly, a newborn baby had just been found in a trash bag in the dumpster at her apartment building. Whether she remembers having sex and giving birth to this baby is another issue and one that Devon will have to address. As Devon is questioned by authorities about this pregnancy and newborn baby, I found it frustrating how Devon denied she was involved. Even as her body was preparing for motherhood, she stood her ground and denied that his newborn baby could be hers. There was not even a slight bit of possibility in her mind, even after she notices that her breasts are sore and leaking, did Devon even think that perhaps the child that they found in the garbage bag could be hers. Really, seriously, not even a slight bit of a possibility? Devon was a soccer player, an excellent one at that. Her future was riding on it and to Devon that is all that mattered. I felt sorry for her because that is all that she had. I thought her mother was a flake and Devon’s friends were the individuals from her team. When she gets cast into the juvenile detention center, Devon doesn’t change but her attorney helps Devon clear the fog so she can see what transpired and get to the real reason why Devon can’t face the facts. The true hero in the novel is the attorney, as she never backs down as she hammers away at Devon. The ending of this novel was just another frustrating piece for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so good but u dont like how they call the baby dumpsre baby that juzt pisses me off so much like what if someone called them a dumpster baby?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was pretty good. I cant wait for the sequel. This is on of those books literally no one has really heard about even though it shouldnt be that way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
markayla_ More than 1 year ago
I read this book like, three years ago in the seventh grade and I still remember and love it so much. Such a phenomenal book! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Despite the fact this book is very well written i didnt like devon. Thr fact she refused help from dom and anyone else really struck my nerve many times. I also dont understand her decison at the end her reasoning. But overall im fasinated by teen pregnancy and write about the topic myself so that being said this diferent side of pregnancy and motherhood was very nice and not so cliche.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Page turner that keeps you on the edge of your seat!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dissapointing. I was skeptical of this book to start but a friend loaned it to me and said it was really good. The first few chapters were very interesting but after a while, I was bored. Devon's charachter got on my nerves and there were a lot a of vague remarks along with underdeveloped plotlines.The end confused me as well as the author seemed to be tying in a theme that was absent in the rest of the book. I feel that it could have been really good but it just didn't deliver.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chedlyne More than 1 year ago
The book After is about a girl named Devon who is an amazing soccer player and she gets pregnant. Devon is really clear that she is pregnant and she kinds of goes on and goes about her regular schedule. She has the baby and she throws it away unconsciously and she’s arrested. Throughout the story Devon realizes what she’s done and how effective it is and how she needs to trust her lawyer. By the end of the story Devon pleads guilty because she realizes what she done was wrong. I like this story because it's kind of a lesson to girls and it the story seemed very realistic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a mystery book. Its that good that nobody should put it down until their done.
Kaitlin_S More than 1 year ago
I couldn't get my nose out of this book! It wasn't what I was expecting at all (I was expecting a woe is me I got pregnant as a teen pity me story) but I was pleasantly surprised. Amy Efaw did an amazing job with truly making you feel connected to the story. There were times I wanted to cry for Devon. When I found out exactly what was happening in the beginning of the book, my mouth quite literally fell open--in the middle of English class nonetheless. I highly recommend this book! I finished it in about a week.