'A laudable debut. Young Adults? You’re in for a treat' Nudge Books
Troubled. That’s seventeen-year-old Gen according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter, until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate a pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.
As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, the flimsy story of their undying love begins to unravel. But it’s when Gen lets go of her past, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life.
What Reviewers and Readers Say:'Moving, authentic, timely,' Kathleen Glasgow
'A raw, riveting story of love and family and the strength to stay standing when both begin to crumble. Bonnie Pipkin never flinches, and the result is a novel as powerful as it is essential'. Robin Wasserman
'Aftercare Instructions is a heart wrenching story that will touch and resonate with so many young adult readers'. National Book Award Finalist An Na
'Nearly impossible to put down. Readers many experience joy, heartache, and everything in between.' David Arnold
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Bonnie Pipkin
Flatiron BooksCopyright © 2017 Bonnie Pipkin
All rights reserved.
A Few Things They Tell You:
No food or drink for six hours prior to appointment time.
If you receive the IV conscious sedation, make sure to secure a ride home or have an escort for public transportation.
Dress in loose, comfortable clothing, with socks and flat shoes. Bring an extra pair of underwear and a sweater or sweatshirt.
Bring picture identification and your insurance card if you are planning to use insurance. Payment is collected in full at the time of the visit.
One, and only one, escort may accompany you to the health center. Your escort will be asked to wait in the designated waiting room, and will not be allowed into the medical center with you.
The Thing I Wish I'd Known:
I love you doesn't come with any guarantees.CHAPTER 2
Sometimes you make a choice that can save your life. You might make your choice for one reason, before the real reason even becomes clear. Like this morning when I refused the sedation. The reason was because I wanted to feel it. I wanted to feel my choice as it left my body. I didn't know it would actually make all the difference in the world when my one, and only one, escort bailed mid-procedure, and I found out by walking into the waiting room, scanning a sea of hopeful eyes, and finding absolutely nowhere safe or familiar to land. In that moment, I was thrown into the deep, deep water. And in the deep, deep water, there is no way to breathe.
Yet somehow, something propels you forward. Survival mode, I think it's called.
You can do this. Just get yourself to Port Authority. You've done this before, when Rose wanted to shop for stupid dance dresses in SoHo. You've done this when you've gone to visit Delilah. You can get yourself home. To get back, you have to move forward. Just move forward.
I cross the street and stop. Pull out my phone and find the screen black. Blank. I squeeze it like I could force out a text message from Peter. A text telling me he will be right back for me. That he just had to go get something real quick, some city errand he wanted to take the opportunity to do, and that he's so sorry it seemed any other way. And that he loves me. And that maybe one day we'll be ready, but we made the right choice for right now. And that he's here for me no matter what. No matter that our lives are so different, and no matter that I don't have anyone offering me guidance. That he's here for me while I figure this shit out.
But nothing appears.
And I have to figure out how to get myself home now. No sedation, no escort. Just me and my extra pair of underwear.
This is what echoes in my brain: You don't have to do this, Genesis. There are other choices.
But I push that away because he knows why I had to do this. I explained myself, didn't I? And anyway, the choice was for us, not me. I push and push our conversation back back back into the grayest part of my brain, and remember I'm standing on Bleecker and Mott in Manhattan, across from the Planned Parenthood. And there is a hole in the leather of my boot I'm wishing more than ever I'd actually taken to the cobbler to get patched.
Voices stretch across the concrete and the speeding taxicabs fuzz and buzz into each other. Three lonely protestors smoke cigarettes through fingerless gloves, with their signs propped against the building. It's a much different scene in Jersey. Which is partially why we came here this morning. More anonymous, I suppose. Easier to blend. No one to run into.
I watch a girl exit the building with her escort. She was in the recovery room with me. Where they sat us down and left us to bleed and ooze until we were ready to walk ourselves out. The girl and her escort have the same wild hair and deep-set eyes. This has to be her mother, and I try to imagine my own mother helping me out, escorting me. But I can't conjure the faintest image of this. Not anymore.
"Are you okay?"
She's standing right in front of me now. Do I look abandoned? Do I look lost? Do I look like I need help? I see my sock sticking out through my boot.
"I guess so."
"Where's your ride?"
I don't answer.
"Where are you headed?"
"New Jersey, I guess."
"Well, do you know your way?"
"I can figure it out. I'll be fine."
She wiggles out of her mom's hold, and steps closer to me. I stare hard into the ground, not really sure why I'm refusing her help.
"Here," she says. "Hold out your hands."
I do as instructed while she reaches into her saggy black bag. I see the vinyl peeling off in patches.
"I'm fine from here," I say.
"I know. I heard you. Just hold your horses."
My hands are still out like an idiot, while she digs and digs.
"Ah, there we go." And with that, she drops a handful of lollipops into my hands.
"They were free," she says with her mouth half turned. Her escort-mother shakes her head and smiles while I hold back tears burning in my eye sockets. I say thank you and keep my head down while they walk away.
Then I put my cousin's address into the map function on my phone. I don't think I'm far from her dorm. I should have had her meet me here in the first place. Or Rose. But how could I have known he'd just leave me?
I followed his conditions. I didn't tell anyone. Not a single person. Even when that broke me apart. Even when I started to feel sick, and started to bloat, and had to make up excuses to the people who would notice. I kept it inside. Held it tight. Like he wanted.
Route overview: 0.7 miles
Walk 0.5 miles, then take a right on Macdougal St.
Walk 0.2 miles, then arrive at the destination.
Sounds easy enough. No hidden turns. No secret passages. Just walk straight, turn once, and arrive. Those are the kind of instructions I can handle. If I have to think any more, I might just melt into a puddle and freeze into the cracks in the sidewalk.
The wind whips between buildings and slices into me as I walk. I pass by the hole-in-the-wall falafel place where Del took me once before, and the smell of fried food and onions makes my stomach twirl. The line is out the door and down the street. Even in the dead of winter. Finally, I see the building on Washington Square Park with the purple NYU flag hanging like my beacon of light.
In the lobby of Delilah's dorm, a tired, grayish doorman in uniform with the name Hunnigan on his badge sits on a stool at a podium. He's doing a crossword puzzle and listening to low, bopping jazz music on the radio. He looks up when I approach, but doesn't say anything.
"I'm here to see Delilah Reese."
He plucks his glasses off and they drop to his belly, dangling by the string around his neck. "She has to sign you in."
He points to a sign behind his head telling me this very thing. Also telling me I have to leave my ID at the desk, and I'm once again thankful for today's preparation instructions. I set it down in front of him.
"She's got to come down, darlin'. I can't let no one up without a resident."
His words blur as my head lightens and my feet grow heavy. It's as if all my blood is spilling through me and down to the ground. The music sputters and spits. I grab his podium for balance.
"Are you okay?"
That question again. And how to answer it? I know I should not be alone right now. That I need someone.
I nod. And move to a seat on the window ledge.
I call Delilah, but it goes to her voice mail.
I'm about to drown in my stomach bile. Where is she?
Where is he?
I call him. Peter.
But my voice doesn't come to me, so I hang up without leaving a message.
Then I call him again.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Did he just disappear? Did he leave this planet? Did he leave the Genesis and Peter planet we set up camp on and inhabited for a happy little while? Where we built our own atmosphere and were working on making a beautiful place? I liked our planet. Now I'm lost in space. No sound. No air.
I call him one more time. You know where it gets me. But as I'm listening to his outgoing message, the phone vibrates in my ear. A text.
Delilah: What's up? In class. Can't answer.
It makes me smile to imagine her sneaking a text message in some philosophy class or history of street poetry or wherever she might be.
Me: At your dorm. I need you.
Delilah: Out in 10. Then 10 min walk. Can you wait that long?
I've made it this far without collapsing. She doesn't ask me what's going on. If she did, I wouldn't know how to take this knot inside me and untangle it into words.
I curl up into the cushion and lean against the cold condensation on the window, tucking my knees up into my chest.
Two girls dressed alike in black-rimmed glasses and striped sweaters stop by the door to arm themselves up with winter layers. The shorter girl is louder than the other and she's talking about an audition. The other, with the static hair, is assuring her she did an amazing job, and she for sure has the part, and the loud girl is whining about how she's a total fraud and one day someone is going to realize.
Actors. Once upon a time I called myself an actor too.
The pair gets distracted by a boy in a brown hat with animal ears and rubber boots. The whining girl strokes his fake ears, and purrs into the real ones. Hunnigan asks them to move away from his podium.
I was in my first play when I was twelve. It was a big deal because I was the only kid in the show. Not that it was a big part or anything. I was in two dream-sequence scenes. The director was a real alcoholic maniac and the highlight of his career was when he was in an action-adventure movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme where he gets stabbed in the neck with a chicken bone. I don't know if I was actually supposed to watch that movie, but there have never been too many boundaries in my home. I guess that's why my dad let me be in this play, with a washed-up movie villain at a community theater downtown. No boundaries. Dad would take me to rehearsals and wait for me in a coffee shop down the street. He knew Brad, the director, probably from meetings, but didn't interfere. Didn't play the dad role. He was so proud, though. He really wanted one of his daughters to be into theater or art or music. His excitement would pulse whenever I'd get into the car after rehearsal. He'd hold back on asking me questions, but tap his fingers against the wheel, waiting for my report.
Anyway, this director was way into meditation. We'd warm up with a breathing exercise and half the cast would fall asleep, but I always liked turning my mind off. I haven't meditated since. And I stopped with the theater thing after my dad died. I couldn't imagine performing without his face in the audience.
I might feel like a fraud too.
Trying to remember the meditation techniques Brad gave us, I tell myself I am not in a steamed-up dormitory lobby. I am alone with my thoughts. No. No thoughts. I am on a mountaintop. All I hear is the steady and constant sound of wind.
Except on this mountaintop, I can't stop thinking about how I ended up here.
All the way up here.
And who is not here with me.
Exactly twenty minutes later, Delilah stands in front of me in the lobby. I hold on to her as she signs me in and takes me up in the elevator to the eighteenth floor. Without asking any questions, she tucks me into her bed and I fall asleep, black and dreamless.
ACT I SCENE 1
(This scene takes place in the Morning Thunder Café, a popular after-school hangout.
At rise, two teenage girls can be seen in a booth. The décor has a vague fifties vibe. The girls are stylish in an alternative kind of way. Not over the top, but not mainstream. GENESIS has a slightly darker vibe to her. ROSE has a more sexual edge.)
Do you know Peter Sage?
What do you mean? Of course, dummy. Everybody does.
Yeah, but, like, do you know him? Have you ever talked to him?
What do you want to know about him?
Well, I mean, uhhhh ...
You mean, "uhhhh"?
Never mind. Forget it.
Okay, well, does he have a ... girlfriend?
Peter Sage? With a girlfriend? You think his nutso religo-freak parents would let him even talk to a girl? Much less slip his hand up her blouse?
He talks to girls.
Yeah, at Bible study. And that creepy morning prayer circle in front of the school.
He's not in the prayer circle.
(Raising eyebrows) What? You looked?
He's not like that. I mean, not like Mitch Jennings or Hannah and all those people.
Why are you paying such close attention, young lady? Does someone have a little crush?
No! Come on. Get real. Peter doesn't like girls like me.
(SERVER dressed in a vintage waitress dress drops off a mountain of cheese fries and two Cokes. ROSE digs in. GENESIS plays with her straw.)
(With her mouth full of fries) Girls like you? You're the best girl there is. Perfectly respectable.
With some pretty heavy baggage.
Are you kidding me? Guys love baggage. Besides, your baggage is, like, totally mysterious. I need some baggage.
(Picks up a fry, but doesn't eat it) Do you think he only likes girls who are ... Christian?
I don't know. Probably.
Seriously, do you like him or something?
No, your imaginary friend next to you.
We come from different worlds.
That's not an answer.
I don't know.
Oh my God! You do! You like him! Hark, the herald angels sing! You finally don't like Will, the stoner creepster loser!
Will's not a loser.
Okay, just a stoner creepster, then. Give me a break.
He's not even hot. Oh, this is excellent news! You're finally over William Fontaine!
Not "over." You have to be "into" to be "over."
No I wasn't. We're old friends. It was just easy.
That makes it grosser.
Because he's like a brother, then.
I wouldn't know. What do you do with your brother, Rose?
Certainly not what you did with Will down the shore!
We just kissed!
(Holding hands to ears) La-la-la-la-la. Didn't happen if I can't hear you.
Why is it gross when I kiss a boy and not you?
I don't just kiss, my friend.
Yeah, I know. Stop bragging.
You know it's true. Anyway, you can do a lot better than Will Fontaine. I'm surprised he didn't make a dishonest woman out of you.
Yeah, I know. Gross.
You should talk. Andy Santos?
La-la-la-la. Didn't happen! (They both laugh.)
Peter pulled me aside this morning to tell me he was glad I'm back at school.
I'm glad you're back at school. I had to fend for myself for two weeks amongst the dimwits and yo-yos.
Of course you're glad. But why would Peter be glad? We're not even friends.
Maybe he feels bad for you.
Ugh. I'm so sick of that.
People are idiots. Just ignore them. You know who your real friends are.
I haven't been gone that long. They're all looking at me like I've sprouted an extra eyeball or appendage or something.
Yeah, well, it felt different when Peter said something. It seemed like he really cared.
Maybe he'll pray for you.
Oh, shut up, Rose.
You'll probably have to wait until marriage to lose your virginity if you go for that.
(Throws french fry) Shut up.
Shut up? Okay. (She stuffs the rest of the fries into her mouth, including the one GENESIS threw at her.)
Save some for the starving children. (ROSE covers her mouth and mutters something like "I'm shutting up.")
Okay, okay. Forget I brought it up. I don't know why he said anything to me. He's probably just a nice person.
(VANESSA enters stage left and walks up to their table. She sits down next to GENESIS and immediately starts crying. The other girls sit, awkwardly.)
Uhhh, is something the matter, Vanessa?
I just feel so sorry for you, Gen. I can't imagine.
Relax about it, okay? Jesus Christ. Gen doesn't need other people losing their shit.
(Straightening up) You guys got cheese fries?
I am really sorry for your loss, Genesis. I don't know what else to say. I'm sorry.
I tried to call you and text you and stuff.
I know. I saw. And I appreciate that.
Will you please just tell me if you need anything?
She's going to be fine.
Sure, Vanessa. Thanks.
(Beat) I think your friends are staring at you.
Okay, well, I should probably get back to them.
You do that.
I know we haven't been, like, close for a while, but you're still a really important friend.
I know, V. Don't worry about me. Rose has got me.
(Gesturing toward her friends) They're waiting for me, and we're going to the game. Are you guys going?
Excerpted from Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin. Copyright © 2017 Bonnie Pipkin. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Recovery Times May Vary,
You May Experience Cramping,
Avoid Strenuous Activity,
You May Experience a Wide Range of Emotions,
Talk to Someone if You Experience Feelings of Detachment,
Avoid Aspirin, Alcohol, Marijuana,
Do Not Hesitate to Call with Any Questions,
Continue Your Normal Routine when Ready,
You Are Not Alone,
If Your Temperature Reaches 100.4°, Call Us Immediately,
A Period of Emotional Paralysis Can Occur,
Allow Some Extra Time at Home to Rest,
Are You Experiencing Any Regret?,
Support Groups Are Available,
Carry On with Regular Activities When Ready,
Do Not Insert Anything,
Read Through All Aftercare Instructions Carefully,
Epilogue: Follow-up Appointment,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Bonnie Pipkin’s AFTERCARE INSTRUCTIONS is an emotional tour-de-force. Pipkin’s novel opens up with Genesis leaving the abortion clinic only to find her boyfriend has abandoned her. Pipkin explores an area that’s rarely discussed in a non-political way, perfectly capturing the turmoil and confusion Genesis goes through. I love how the story alternates between the “before” and “after.” The “before” chapters are formatted like a stage play and track the rise and fall of Genesis’s relationship with Peter. It’s a cool, innovative way to lay the foundation for how Genesis ended up at Planned Parenthood and why she’s become the person she is. From page one, the reader is hooked by Genesis’s compelling voice. Her thoughts are raw, genuine, and mature beyond her years. Instead of glorifying Genesis as a one-dimensional heroine who keeps her composure at all times, Pipkin creates a complex heroine who is incredibly resilient yet human at the same time. Thus, readers can empathize with and relate to her. Genesis, understandably, has her meltdown moments, but those moments don’t make her any less strong. Even Pipkin’s secondary characters are well-developed and jump off the page. Peter, the boyfriend, isn’t painted as simply a villain, but rather as someone torn between his family’s religious values and his desires. Pipkin is able to convey so much in her well-chosen words. We can feel the love and frustration and sadness and connection pulsing between all the characters. Aside from complex characters and beautiful writing, Pipkin’s plot itself is gripping and fast-paced. Once I started the book, I couldn’t put it down. Overall, AFTERCARE INSTRUCTIONS is an enthralling, thought-provoking read that everyone can learn from.
Professor Pipkin was a college professor of mine, not once, but twice. This book delivered just as eloquently as I was expecting. She created a world that enveloped me and welcomed me more deeply than anything I’ve read in a while. She tackled difficult topics with poise and grace, aftercare instructions is something every young woman should read. It’s empowering, educational, and everything in between!
Beautiful and tragic.
Genesis fully relies on her boyfriend Peter. He's her rock and she thinks their relationship is solid and forever. This changes drastically when Peter abandons her at Planet Parenthood. Genesis has to go through the termination of her pregnancy on her own without anyone who loves her by her side. This makes her question everything and everyone she knows. Genesis is going through a heavy crisis and she never expected she'd have to do this without Peter. Where did things go wrong between Genesis and Peter and how can she go forward when so much unresolved pain of the past is holding her back? Genesis can't fully control her emotions, she questions old friends and family and she makes new friends in a time when that might not seem to be the best idea. Will she eventually survive the traumatic experiences that keep piling up and can she trust on her best friend and cousin to pull her through? Aftercare Instructions is a fantastic emotional story. Genesis is a strong girl with plenty of talent, but her life is often tough. When she finally thinks she's found safety with someone he abandons her at the worst possible moment. My heart ached for everything Genesis is going through. I had tears in my eyes when I read her story and admired her determination to keep going. She might mess up from time to time, but she does the best she can. She slowly has to learn she can trust people and that she isn't completely on her own, which is a beautiful process to witness. Bonnie Pipkin combines regular chapters with flashbacks about Genesis and Peter in the form of a play. I absolutely loved that. It makes the story dynamic and it paints a very good picture of what's going on between them and what went wrong. I'm a big fan of the theater and I really enjoyed this aspect of the story. Aftercare Instructions is an incredible compelling and poignant book. I was impressed by the rawness and openness of it. I was also blown away by the writing and the thought-provoking subject is fantastic. I can't praise this story enough, it's absolutely brilliant and I highly recommend it.
Well written and has a unique plot. For the right people, this will be an important story, and I'm glad to see it on the shelves.
“Sometime you make a choice that can save your life. You might make your choice for one reason, before the real reason ever becomes clear.” I tend to favor character driven stories, and this was a fantastic one. Aftercare Instructions showcases one girls journey as she begins to question her relationships, her choices, and her future. Genesis Johnson’s world seems to be in shambles after her boyfriend abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic, but she soon discovers that she has more possibilities for her future than she expected. Things I Liked I really loves the script-style flashbacks within the story. This might be my favorite use of scripts within a story I’ve ever read. They were so natural, and really showcased Genesis’ evolution and emotions through the story. You can really connect with her journey through these little breaks. A small thing, but I really loved the chapter titles. They all felt really appropriate and relevant to the story. I thought that Genesis and Rose’s relationship was really great. It was great to see that Genesis had someone she trusted and who fully supported her in her corner. But I love that they didn’t always see eye-to-eye, they challenged each other in the best way to help each other grow. Even with the intense subject matter, the story had a very hopeful and full-circle feeling that was completely satisfying. After everything that Genesis had gone through is was great to see her grow, and look forward to the future and it’s possibilities. Things I Didn’t Like I would have loved to have a bit more closure with Genesis’ relationship with Vanessa. We did get a great scene where they talk and have the potential to move forward, but their relationship was a little unfinished. This was such a fantastic character driven story. You feel connected to Genesis and her journey. It’s an emotionally complex story that keeps you engaged. I received a copy of the book from Flatiron books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.