Afterparty

( 4 )

Overview

“A gripping and sometimes downright scary look at friendship and manipulation” (Kirkus Reviews) by the author of Where It Began.

Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother—whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her…and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and ...

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Afterparty

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Overview

“A gripping and sometimes downright scary look at friendship and manipulation” (Kirkus Reviews) by the author of Where It Began.

Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother—whose name her dad won’t even say out loud. That’s why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her…and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she’s everything Emma is not.

And it may be more than Emma can handle.

Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It's more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/28/2013
After moving to Los Angeles with an overprotective father, 16-year-old Emma Lazar is eager to shed her “Emma the Good” reputation. When she is instantly befriended by beautiful but volatile Siobhan, Emma begins drinking, sneaking out to parties, and lying to her father (and nearly everyone else). While Siobhan spices up Emma’s bland life, Emma isn’t sure Siobhan is on her side—especially after Dylan, whom Emma describes as “the most attractive person I have even seen,” gets between them. Stampler’s (Where It Began) plot is steeped in ever-increasing drama and debauchery, including drug use, group sex, and attempted murder; even so, the story drags at times as readers meander through familiar territory of expensive backdrops, boyfriend stealing, and beautiful but desperate friends. Stampler’s writing is confident, and Emma can be both funny and poetic (she describes an intimate moment with Dylan as “imprinted on my heart, like the afterimage of a burst of light, under your eyelids when you close your eyes”), but her story often lacks the momentum to keep this party going. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Jan.)
Booklist
"In Stampler's unflinching look at wealthy, decadent youth and complicated relationships, there are no easy answers. Realistic characters with tight dialogue add to the tension—and there's plenty of it."
BookPage - Deborah Hopkinson
"Readers will root for Emma as she negotiates difficult choices and a first romance, and grapples with finding her moral compass. But in her heartbreaking portrayal of Siobhan, a young woman spinning out of control with no one able to catch her—not even her best friend—author Ann Redisch Stampler reminds us that losing a friendship can be just as painful as a failed romance."
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Johanna Nation-Vallee
Emma is a self-proclaimed “good girl,” with a well-meaning but overprotective father. When they move to Los Angeles, Emma is torn between the responsibilities of her old identity and the lure of the glamorous and decadent L.A. teen culture. At school she meets the worldly and reckless Siobhan, who decides Emma would be the perfect “friend” to corrupt. What follows is a story of conflicting loyalties and moral dilemmas. Emma is drawn more and more into Siobhan’s world of parties and drugs as the two devise a pact to prepare Emma for Afterparty, the end-of-school bash where anything goes. Plans go awry when the two end up falling for the same boy, however, ending in a tragic confrontation at Afterparty. Throughout the book Emma finds herself fighting for middle ground between the high school experience of “Emma the Good”—good grades, steady boyfriend, volunteering at the food bank—and the experience she gets with Siobhan—checklists, wild parties, and freedom from her father. Many readers will be able to relate to this classic teenage conflict, even if Emma’s privileged lifestyle feels unfamiliar. The characters are realistically flawed, and watching the story unfold is uncomfortable because of it. Afterparty will be most suitable for older teens due to drug-related and sexual themes and will probably be most popular among girls. Reviewer: Johanna Nation-Vallee; Ages 15 to 18.
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
The reader might say Emma Lazar is held in “protective custody” by her father; he does not want his daughter to turn out like her mother—a dead addict found behind a convenience store with a needle in her lifeless arm. Emma has had to give up a lot: her name, Amélie; her country, Quebec, Canada; her native language, French; and her religion, Judaism. But keeping a teenage girl from going to parties or out with friends or engaging in other normal adolescent behavior generally causes rebellion. So when Emma and Dad move to L.A. for his new job and her new fancy prep school, the girl goes wild. The first day of school she meets Siobhan Lynch, who is already past wild into dangerous; she leads Emma into over-the-top behavior. She tries to resist, but is sucked into “not-a-good-girl-anymore” behavior. Siobhan makes up a French boyfriend for Emma, supposedly to protect her from snarky remarks by the school’s mean girls. Of course, this keeps the school’s hottest guy, Dylan, from showing an interest in Emma. At Siobhan’s prodding, Emma’s behavior is increasingly dangerous. She sneaks out her bedroom window, frequently drinks too much, and tries drugs. Siobhan needles Emma into losing her virginity. By the time the notorious prom “Afterparty” rolls around, Siobhan has made Emma promise that if they are not ecstatically happy at the party, they should jump off the roof of the hotel. When Siobhan drags her to the roof, Emma resists her friend’s attempt to push over her over the side. Siobhan jumps over herself. She survives but refuses to be Emma’s friend, because she did not keep her promise to jump. This is a cautionary tale for teens and their parents. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan; Ages 14 up.
School Library Journal
03/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—Emma is tired of being "Emma the Good," so when she and her father move to Beverly Hills for her junior and senior years of high school, she decides it is time to change. She understands her father's fears-her mother was an addict and died of an overdose-but he is smothering her with his rules and protectiveness. On her first day at school, she meets Siobhan and the two bond. Siobhan is everything Emma isn't-wild, unafraid, free to do what she wants with a mother who often eggs her on. Emma also meets Dylan, an enigma to whom she is immediately attracted-handsome, smart, a rebel. Siobhan and Emma make a pact that Emma will, during the course of her junior year, sneak out of the house, attend parties, drink, have sex, and attend the legendary Afterparty at the end of the school year. Emma becomes fairly comfortable living her dual life, and her friendships with Siobhan and Dylan grow, until Siobhan hooks up with Dylan at a party and the two begin dating. This is the beginning of the end as things start to spiral out of Emma's control. She is a strong character whose struggle to balance parental expectations and the typical teen desire for freedom reads very realistically. Siobhan, as the bad girl, and Dylan, as the bad boy love interest, are slightly more predictable but still well drawn and relatable. Most of the other characters, including Emma's dad, Siobhan's mother, and Dylan's parents, as well as the "mean girls" at the exclusive private school they all attend, are much more stereotypical. Overall, the book reads like a blend of a standard teen romance with Beverly Hills, 90210 and still manages to be appealing.—Janet Hilbun, Texas Women's University, Denton, TX
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-02
After years of moving from place to place with her overprotective dad, Emma Lazar is thrilled that her dad's latest job brings the two of them to Los Angeles. When vicious mean girl Chelsea Hay insults Emma at her new swanky private day school, the equally sharp-tongued Siobhan Lynch stands up for Emma. Thus begins a friendship that is both compelling and harrowing. Siobhan is a master manipulator, and her charm, persistence and denials of wrongdoing lead Emma to forgive and forget ever-crueler behavior and actions. Siobhan wants the pair of them to go to Afterparty, a notorious yearly party that "beyond defies description." To get sheltered Emma ready, she proposes a list of activities, mostly involving substance use and hookups with boys. The book begins with a sensational scene from its climax and the intimation that Emma will kill her best friend, but the story is much more character-driven than the opening suggests. At the center are Emma's relationships: navigating her father's rules and his disappointment when she breaks them, crushing on and getting close to dreamy Dylan Kahane, debriefing with her even-more-sheltered friend Megan, and being drawn into Siobhan's increasingly reckless agenda. Aside from a few avoidable misunderstandings between Emma and Dylan, this is a gripping and sometimes downright scary look at friendship and manipulation. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442423244
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 12/31/2013
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 145,368
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Redisch Stampler is the author of Afterparty and Where it Began, both for teens, as well as several picture books, including The Rooster Prince of Breslov. Her books have been an Aesop Accolade winner, Sydney Taylor Honor and Notable Books, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year. Ann lives with her husband, Rick, in Los Angeles, California.

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Read an Excerpt

Afterparty

  • CHAPTER ONE
    THE BEACH CLUB WHERE WE land our first day in L.A. is all white and sun-bleached, with striped awnings and a platoon of valet parking guys in shorts and starched safari shirts, like privates in the tap-dancing division of a silent movie’s tropical army. The sky is dazzling blue with a faint grayish haze, a smudge all along the horizon.

My dad thinks it’s some smog-like form of breathable dirt.

I think it’s the edge of Paradise.

On the drive from the hotel to the beach, I start counting palm trees, but there are so many, I lose track. Then I count cars so low to the ground that you could use their hoods for coffee tables, and then landmarks that I’ve seen in movies. The pink-and-green façade of the Beverly Hills Hotel. The gates of Bel Air. The Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier.

My dad says, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Although you wouldn’t know that if you looked at us.

My dad is in creased khaki pants and a blazer and a white shirt and cuff links. I had to fight with him to leave off the tie because, seriously, it’s a beach party at a beach club at the beach.

I am wearing a sundress that is saved from intolerable dowdiness only by the fact that it’s vintage. (Hint: If your dad insists you wear skirts that are several inches longer than any skirt worn by a girl who wasn’t Amish since the nineteenth century, go vintage.)

Cinched waist, wide belt, Audrey Hepburn flats, and big cat’s-eye sunglasses.

I say, “Best city yet. So far.”

We have spent almost my whole life wandering all around the North American landscape like a tiny band of lost nomads from the icy North, pausing at medical schools that needed a visiting professor, my dad, who could work on their research grants, and then pack up and leave. Dragging his kid behind him.

Until now.

My dad says, “Ems, are those polarized lenses? Blue eyes and sun don’t mix.”

I say, “Dad. Of course they are.”

Welcome to California.

I have been here for less than twenty-four hours. I am sitting in the backseat of a limousine behind a driver in a jet-black cap who drives too fast. I am dressed for 1958. And already I am telling lies.

We head down a sharp incline at the edge of a bluff toward the beach and up the coast. I can’t tell if we’re in Santa Monica or Malibu or some other sunbaked city that I’ve never heard of.

I start counting cars with surfboards strapped on top of them, and cars with surfboards sticking out of hatchbacks. I start counting cars with out-of-state license plates, with drivers who look ecstatic to be here and not there when we pass them.

I am counting license plates because I don’t want to think about whether there’s some way my dad can check out if my sunglasses really are polarized.

I am trying to think about all the seagulls here and all this light instead.

How I’m wearing coconut oil instead of dermatologist-approved number 50 sunblock so I can get tan during the last remnants of afternoon sun at this beach party.

I feel very princess-y in the back of this black car. The valet and the driver and my dad all lunge to open my door.

My dad wins. There’s not a minute that he isn’t trying to take care of me. Sometimes maybe too much, but still.

We are here because the head of the Albert Whitbread Psychiatric Institute dropped dead on the last day of July, by the side of the road, on his annual bicycle trek through Provence. The Institute started trying to hire my dad to replace him when his corpse was still in a cooler in France. My dad has spent the month of August trying to decide whether to sign the contract sentencing him to five years in Sodom and Gomorrah, which, if you’re not up on your Biblical trivia, were the ancient prototypes of Sin City.

Usually I am the person protesting the move while my dad tries to explain why moving from Montreal to Toronto to St. Louis to Philadelphia to Baltimore to Washington, D.C., to Chicago in the space of ten years is a good thing.

Not this time. This time I want it.

We walk under a striped awning toward a cluster of white clapboard buildings between the parking lot and the sand.

My dad brushes sand off the cuffs of his pants and gestures toward the club, where, I can tell just by the way he’s frowning, there’s way too much perfectly tanned skin and visible fun. He rolls his eyes “Would you say this is more killer or more gnarly?”

I say, “Dad, I love you, please don’t get mad at me, but if you want these people to hire you, you can’t say those words out loud ever again.”

I don’t know when people actually said “killer” and “gnarly,” but I’m pretty sure my dad was in Quebec, speaking French, back when they did.

My dad says, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I have to decide if I want them to hire me.”

This would be the whole rest of high school in one place, and the place would be here. I have already decided.

Beyond the giant wooden deck of the main building, there are pools and shuffleboard and rows and rows of beach chairs, studded with giant striped umbrellas that skirt a lagoon on one side and go straight down to the surf on the other.

Kids my age seem to own the chairs and the fire pit and the snack shack by the lagoon. My father makes me promise that I will not, under any circumstances, even so much as dip my baby toe in that lagoon, which he is pretty sure is formed from toxic runoff from a storm drain.

“What if my hair catches fire from a rogue tiki torch?” I say.

“Ems, I’m sure there’s a highly trained staff of lifeguards with fire extinguishers if that happens.”

“Just so long as I can swim in the ocean when we move here.”

“If we move here.”

A hostess in white linen leads us to wicker club chairs on the deck next to Dr. Karp, the head of the Albert Whitbread Institute board of directors, and his wife, who are mounting a campaign to convince my dad that Los Angeles, far from being Sin City, is actually a lot like Heaven. Only with a beach.

It is hard to tell from here if all those kids are hanging on the outskirts of the beach club willingly and are having a wonderful time (in which case we should move here and join up immediately, despite the toxicity) or if they’ve been dragged here under protest to keep them penned up and away from the un-rich.

The piped-in music plays “I Wish They All Could Be California Girls,” followed by “California Dreaming,” a version of “Hotel California” with marimbas, and “I Love L.A.”

All I want at that moment is to be a California girl leading a normal California life, sitting by the lagoon, drinking, all right, a bottle of root beer, with my magically transformed California dad, who has become completely okay with me engaging in normal California teen activities.

For my whole life, I was that girl. The girl who wasn’t allowed to watch PG-13 movies until I turned thirteen—which made sleepovers tricky, since if I couldn’t, nobody else could. The one time I broke down and watched the forbidden movie, and my dad found out, I basically spent the next two weeks in my room, nodding my head during long, heartfelt talks about how disappointed he was, and didn’t I have a moral compass?

It wasn’t a ploy or a trick or a parental manipulation, either. The thought that I might not be Emma the Good filled him with woe. I cried so much that he made me crème brûlée with a burnt sugar crust, and I sobbed the whole time I was eating it.

By the time we hit Chicago, the only kind of coeducational activities that didn’t leave him in a state of overwrought parental panic were rehearsals of the Chicagoland Youth Orchestra.

Yet here we are.

Here I am, the girl who has been craving sugar all her life, in Candy Land. Here I am, standing on the exact sandy spot where I want my life as the girl previously known as Emma the Good Girl to begin. Here I am, sliding the sunglasses into my bag after I look at all the other beach club kids and see that cat’s-eyes aren’t an Audrey Hepburn kind of fashion statement at all; they’re just weird.

Mrs. Karp, who keeps putting her hand on my arm when she talks, says, “Your daughter is so lovely. I’ll bet you have to beat the boys off with a stick.”

Not that he wouldn’t, given a boy and a stick, but this is the completely wrong direction for the conversation to be going. In fact, two boys standing in line for the bar at the edge of the deck are at that moment checking me out. At least they are until my dad gives them a look suggesting that unless they avert their gaze, they won’t live long enough to put their shirts back on.

Mrs. Karp tells me how much I’ll like California, oblivious to my dad miserably trying to get the sand out of his shoes.

“But really, a new school that’s already started?” my dad says. “During junior year.”

“But school doesn’t start for days, and I’m a really fast packer!” (Also a highly experienced packer. I could be out of Illinois in forty-eight hours.)

Mrs. Karp pats my hand and says, “Isn’t she precious,” as if I weren’t actually there.

Then Dr. Karp tells my dad how he’s also on the board of Latimer Country Day, where half the kids at this very club (kids who appear to be drinking beer and hooking up in broad daylight halfway across this crowded strip of ritzy beach) go to school, and moments from now, I, too, could be attending.

I am quite certain my dad is appalled at the thought of me having anything to do with these kids. Every time Mrs. Karp offers to take me down to the lagoon to introduce me to some kids my age, he shoots me a don’t-you-dare look and I end up ordering more lemonade.

My dad sighs, “You’d probably have to drive a car.”

The prospect of spinning out down the beachfront highway, behind the wheel, windows down, completely free, makes me almost die of longing. I start wondering if there are GPS bracelets you can clamp on your kid’s ankle, but I’m pretty sure that if you could buy them, I’d have one already.

I say, “I wouldn’t mind driving.”

My dad, who generally manages to walk the fine line between oppressive dictator and overprotective good guy, smiles. He says, “I thought you might have that reaction.”

It’s getting dark, and after hours of observation, I want to go sit with the kids. A lot. Even though I am wearing a polka-dotted dress with a circular skirt that falls three inches below my knees and they’re wearing almost nothing. Even if I end up next to the girls who came up onto the deck to moan about something to their mothers and gave me a who-are-you-and-what-are-you-doing-here once-over on their way back to the sand.

Not a chance.

We have reservations in the dining room, where the waiter hovers over us, keeping our water glasses perfectly full and whisking away the appetizers like a magician before bringing even more food. Of course, Mrs. Karp has long since given up on trying to maneuver me across the sand to meet other kids. She has practically given up talking to me altogether, ever since she kept trying to shove surf ’n’ turf down my throat over my (extremely polite) protests. Then she clammed up, horrified that maybe she was trying to force lobster on a kosher person who can’t actually eat shellfish.

I am not a kosher person. It isn’t even clear if I’m a Jewish person. My dad claims he wants me to make spiritual decisions when I hit adulthood. I just don’t like lobsters. They’re like giant bugs that stare up at you from the plate. I keep telling her that it’s okay, but Mrs. Karp looks stricken, even when my dad reassures her that we left all that (kosher food? religion? all vestiges of our past life?) behind in Montreal.

I am starting to feel as if I’m a walking, talking motherless-girl vacuum that nice women who so much as spot me across the room are inexplicably drawn to fill with helpfulness and insects of the sea.

I wander off in search of the ladies’ room, in search of five unsupervised minutes during which I plan to chew some contraband gum, which my dad thinks is a disgusting and therefore unacceptable habit. I am visualizing a moving truck carting our stuff across the Rocky Mountains.

When I see him.

The guy is in a gray Latimer Country Day football tee, worn almost to transparency, and tight but not disgustingly tight jeans, ocean-soaked around the ankles. I am at a dead end in the maze of hallways and unlabeled doors where the ladies’ room is supposed to be.

The guy has a corkscrew and two wineglasses dangling from his fingers. He has a face you could draw from memory a second after you first see it, a line drawing of hard-edged, witty symmetry. He looks like an underwear model who also attends Yale, and is deeply amused by the world but not so much so that you’re distracted from the cheekbones, or the eyelashes, or the long upper lip, or the mouth.

The mouth.

There is a bit of toasted marshmallow at the corner of his mouth. Which he licks off.

He says, “So. Were you looking for me?”

I watch his tongue trace his lower lip, possibly in search of remnants of marshmallow and possibly flirting.

He has the best hair. Light brown, shiny, slightly spiky from having been in the ocean recently enough to still be damp and only just shaken dry.

He says, “Did I miss something?”

“What?” I am leaning against one of the unmarked doors, which is cold and slippery, as if it’s sucked up all the air-conditioned air and left the hallway balmy.

He says, “You’re looking at my mouth.”

I am.

I say, “Marshmallow.”

He tilts his head. He is bemused, and also gorgeous.

I say, “I’m trapped up here in the dining room with surf ’n’ turf, and I want marshmallows.”

He says, “Poor you. Avoid the clams. Unless you like rubber. You could stick them together and use them for handball.”

I say, “Not my game.”

He rests the back of his head against the wall opposite, but it’s a very narrow hall. “What is your game?”

Oh God, a line! I’ve been here for less than twenty-four hours, I’m just wandering around looking for a quiet place to chew a stick of gum, and I’m two feet away from a tan guy who is feeding me a line.

The guy leans forward. He smells like salt water and smoke from the bonfire down by the lagoon. He slips the hand that isn’t holding the corkscrew and the glasses into the small of my back and then he pauses, and I smile, and he’s kissing me.

Welcome to California.

I do not hook up with random guys in prep-school tees, and I don’t flirt, and I don’t kiss them back—not that I’ve ever had the opportunity to kiss them back—and I don’t put my hand on their shoulders in tacit acknowledgment of how much I want to be doing this strange, random, surprising thing.

There are footsteps, but he doesn’t stop until he’s finished kissing me. Doesn’t look back at the blond girl in the black bikini top and sarong who is looking at me over his shoulder. I didn’t know that people even actually wore sarongs. It might just be a really well-draped beach towel.

She says, “Right. Well, don’t get any ideas about sister-wives, jerkoff. Just give me the corkscrew.”

He is smiling, apparently capable of smiling intensely at two girls simultaneously.

I would jump back, but I’m already pressed against a closed door. I say, “Oh God, is this your boyfriend?” She looks as if he’d be her boyfriend. She is wearing a thin chain with a tiny diamond every few inches that is pooled between her breasts, and she has the same wet hair and the same potential for a lucrative career modeling tiny pieces of lingerie while glaring.

She says, “You can have him. He’s a shit kisser, anyway.” She hooks a finger through his belt loop and pulls him away, down the hall.

I go back to the dinner party, but it’s hard to pay attention.

Three weeks later, we live here.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Ann Redisch Stampler has written a wonderfully engaging and equa

    Ann Redisch Stampler has written a wonderfully engaging and equally compelling follow up novel to her shining debut, Where It Began . Afterparty is an explosive young adult book full of tragedy, betrayal, and complicated romance. 

    It was incredibly easy for me to get sucked into this story right away, because the Stampler's writing style just flowed really well and I found myself enjoying the book quite a bit, although there were moments where I cringed a bit at a couple of things that were happening. I found myself enjoying how beautifully written the story was, how the sadness tinged the pages and somehow began to wake up my feels, and how it reminded me of what it was like growing up around other's who experienced some of the things Emma, Siobahn, and other's did. Stampler does a brilliant job of telling a story of self-growth and discovery, mingled with complicated lies, betrayal, friendship, and loyalty. 

    I was drawn in completely by Emma the Good versus Emma the Conflicted. The flaws were real and her constant struggle with reconciling the always dutiful good girl her father expected her to be and the Emma breaking free and becoming reckless, was approached in such a way that it was easy to relate to her character and inner struggles, even if you weren't ever truly faced with that situation before. Readers will appreciate the realism written between the pages and how it brings the characters to life in many ways, lending so much more depth and interesting facets to them. There's a wild and intense fervor hidden beneath the pages of this complicated lesson in morality and realism. that's an inherent part of who Siobhan really is underneath the cover of her nasty disguise. 

    The twists and turns with the story Afterparty has to tell, will keep readers on the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens next. It's full of intense emotion and suspense, written in such a way that it's a fast paced enjoyable read, that isn't too extremely heavy but hits home with all of the necessary elements it needs to make its message clear. One of the most appreciative things about this book, is the way in which Stampler deals with peer pressure among friends and non-friends. If you're looking for a book that reads like some sappy after-school special, then this isn't the book I would suggest to you. If you are looking for a book that deals with everyday struggles that a teen goes through from peer pressure, to dealing with betrayal in friendships, among other things then this is the book that I would suggest picking up.

    Afterparty , might just surprise readers with how well written and relatable it is. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Its Great

    It was a really good book. My interest was kept the whole time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 28, 2014

    I love a good bad-girl, I do. If I can live a thousand lives vic

    I love a good bad-girl, I do. If I can live a thousand lives vicariously through reading, I'd rather relate to the bad girl over the good girl, not because good girls are boring, but because they are a known quantity. I crave something new and different, but still safe--something I can tuck back between the covers of a good book when I'm done with it. A good bad-girl is just the thing--likeable, but wild, just the right kind of chaotic element to make an equation add up to something a little unexpected. And when you're done with her, just close the book.

    Emma Lazar has no such luxury, however. She craves the new and different, stepping out into the hot Los Angeles haze, leaning away from her father's overprotective shadow and towards the bright, sparkling beacon of fun that is Siobhan Lynch. As Emma's friendship with Siobhan grows, her relationship with her father begins to falter. With an uninhibited partner in crime, Emma begins to change, and not necessarily for the better.

    Afterparty explores the life of the good girl, the bad girl, and all the gray areas in between them. Emma agonizes over her identity: is she Emma the Good, taking insanely perfect notes and following her moral compass to an unequivocal North? Or is she Emma the Bad Seedling, as the handsome but perhaps untrustworthy Dylan Kahane calls her: lying, sneaking out, with moral compass spinning wildly out of control? Is she her (junkie, derelict, deceased) mother's daughter, despite all the effort she and her father put in to avoid just such an outcome?

    Evenly-paced, snarky, and bursting with bad decisions, Afterparty is a fascinating and highly entertaining addition to contemporary realistic YA fiction. I highly recommend it!

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  • Posted January 14, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    3.5 Stars 'Afterparty' is a glaringly realistic young adult co

    3.5 Stars

    'Afterparty' is a glaringly realistic young adult contemporary novel that shows what can come of lies, secrets, and unstable friendships. The book follows main character Emma as she adjusts to her new life in California with her overprotective but sweet dad. Emma doesn't expect things to be any different here than they were before, but then she meets Siobhan - another transfer student who is everything Emma wishes she could be. Where Emma is an honest "good girl," Siobhan is a snarky wild girl who likes to play and party. Soon Emma and Siobhan are inseparable and Emma's "good girl" attitude starts to slip away. With Siobhan at her side and their increasingly crazy pacts between them, Emma begins to become what she believes is a normal teenage girl. What she doesn't expect is how Siobhan will react to the new her that comes alive and what will happen on the epic night known as the Afterparty.

    The description of the book immediately drew me to it, although I don't normally go for contemporary fiction. The premise sounded intriguing and kind of like a teen Lifetime movie, so I thought I'd give it a go. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. The characters were well written with distinct personalities and traits which made them incredibly realistic and easy to identify with. Emma's character reminded me of my teenage self - the Good Emma with the overprotective dad and the "good girl" who always did what she was supposed to. I easily got inside of Emma's head and was able to really empathize with her throughout the novel. The plot was fantastic - full of drama, teen angst, mean girls, and crushes - it was a perfect image of life as a teenager. There were definitely some deeper themes mixed in such as friendship, family, love, and becoming comfortable with who you are - which I thought gave the book an extra depth and meaning. The writing was well done with lots of details and vivid descriptions so that I felt like I was right beside Emma throughout the entire story. The only thing that got me was the pacing of the book. It seemed slow, even sluggish, at times. I had a really hard time focusing because I felt like it was dragging along, which meant I couldn't fully immerse myself into the story like I normally do - which is why I believe I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have. There's absolutely nothing wrong with anything in the book and I'm sure tons of contemporary fictions fans will love it, but the pacing was just off for me and I couldn't get into it. Overall, it was an incredibly realistic and honest look at teenage life with a bit of drama thrown in for good measure. Definitely recommended!

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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