Picture this. You're the manager of a restaurant franchise, and life is pretty good. But events taking place just beyond your restaurant's doors threaten your contented existence. More specifically, a group of teenage boys have begun to brawl in your parking lot, creating a paralyzing "Catch 22." For the boys assembled there not so long ago, and the welcome patrol car that broke up that rumble filed a report that was all too unwelcome at your corporate headquarters. What to do this time around? Call the police and risk a hassle at work? Or wait and hope the fight just fizzles out?
Such a moral conundrum sets the stage for Shawver's tense work of fiction, a gripping yet subtle tale that contains some biting insights into the simmering class divisions that lie beneath the surface of American life. What the restaurant manager does that night introduces him to an ugly side of life, and a cowardly side of himself. The outcome of his decision has far-reaching effects, but perhaps the most profoundly affected is the mother of one of the boys, who discovers things about her son and herself that no mother would want to learn. A grim picture of a society dotted with seemingly identical restaurants, Aftermath is a novel no less spellbinding than Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, but it takes place right in our own hometowns. (Spring 2006 Selection))