"Definitely one of the best YA contemporary romances I've read." My Tiny Obsessions blog
Becca Hanson is a readera voracious reader. She’d rather hang out with Harry and Ron than go on a date or surf the internet. But Becca’s also seen a Thestral. Since her bestand onlyreal friend Charlotte’s death, Becca’s read 108,023 pages, and she’s not about to let anything, or anyone, keep her from reading 108,023 more.
Until she meets Max. He’s experienced loss, too, and his gorgeous, dark eyes see Becca the way no one else in school can. But Becca’s already lost so much…she’s not about to lose her heart, too.
The companion novel to Love and Other Unknown Variables is an exploration of loss and regret, and a celebration of hope and discovering a life worth living again.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
Shannon Alexander was compelled to write this story after the death of her best friend to ovarian cancer. She is a member of SCBWI and She Writes, and works as a copy editor for Sucker Literary, a showcase fornew and undiscovered writers of young adult literature. She recently completed her seventh Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Washington D.C., and is anactive supporter of cancer research. http://wanderthewords.blogspot.com
Read an Excerpt
Life After Juliet
By Shannon Lee Alexander, Heather Howland, Jenn Mishler
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Shannon Lee Alexander
All rights reserved.
I'm not sure how long I've been back in school. I don't really do days anymore. Time is measured in pages. I've read 3,718 pages since Dad dropped me off on the first day. It's been 108,023 pages since Charlotte died. I've read 150 pages since I stepped on the bus this morning. It's been ten pages since I thought of Charlotte.
She's not coming back, and I don't know what else to do, so I keep turning the pages.
However long I've been back at Sandstone High, the advanced literature and composition teacher, Mrs. Jonah, informed me yesterday that I am no longer allowed to "sit like a bump on a log, reading books" in her class. I find this strange, but then, I don't understand the real world. I've given up trying to make any kind of sense of it. Today in class, I am sitting like a bump on a log, staring out the window.
Sandstone is a typical high school, unlike the fancy math and science school on the other side of town that Charlie graduated from last spring. It's the kind of building that's been pieced together — add a wing here, convert a gym there, dump mobile units here — throughout the decades as the town's population grew and it had to be quickly expanded. There's no one defining style. It's a mishmash. The kids who go here are also diverse, so it's not hard for me to fade into the background.
Lit and Comp is a junior course. The guidance counselor signed me up for it at the end of last year. She described it as a lively class full of opportunities for personal and artistic growth. In other words, it's my worst nightmare. I've decided growth is overrated.
Mrs. Jonah's classroom is long and narrow, with a wall of windows down the side. She's decorated the wide windowsill with spindly spider plants, stacks of books, empty vintage Coke bottles that catch the sunlight, and a bust of Sir Isaac Newton, which is strange since she's not a science teacher.
Mrs. Jonah raps on her desk now to get our attention. She stands and brushes invisible lint off her black pencil skirt. Tall and unafraid of wearing high heels, she towers over everyone in the school, even the basketball coach. Her pixie haircut and makeup are always perfect. She's the most with it human I've ever seen.
"Time's up," she says. "Please, pass your quizzes forward."
I've been done with my quiz for what would have been about twenty pages, if reading were still allowed in Lit class. I pass my paper to the boy in front of me. He runs his hand through his choppy black hair and smiles. His lips are chapped, and the smiling pulls the raw skin too tight. It makes me wince. I instantly feel bad, because I remember this guy.
Max. He was in Mr. Bunting's World History class with Charlotte and me last year. He was the only student at Sandstone who spoke directly to me after Charlotte died. He came right up to me in history, cleared his throat so I'd look up from my book and said, "Sorry for your loss."
I remember I got up and left the room. It was either that or start crying.
He's still looking at me now. I should say something, something nice, like "Thank you for your condolences." Instead, I look out the window again.
Max sighs, soft like the riffle of book pages, as he turns around and passes our quizzes forward. I'm used to that sound. It's the sound of my father when I refuse to put my book down and come join my mother and him. The sound of my mother when she realizes I've been listening to the book characters in my head instead of her. Lately, I'm really only safe lost in the pages of a book. Outside, in the real world, it's like I'm walking around with no skin. Everything hurts.
"Okay, people," Mrs. Jonah says, clapping her hands. The sound snaps my attention back into her classroom. "I'm going to assign your critique partners for this quarter. You'll be partnering with this person on various writing assignments, sharing constructive criticism, ideas, and support throughout the writing process. Your job as partners is to help each other improve. My hope is that many of you will connect over your writing and that these partnerships will become valuable to you outside of the classroom, too. So for the remainder of class, I want you to get acquainted with your new writing buddies."
The class murmurs and scuffles in their seats, excited that they'll get to work with other people. If Charlotte were here, I would whisper to her, "Partners?"
Charlotte would roll her blue eyes at me. "Of course," she'd mouth back.
But that's not going to happen, so I turn back to the window to watch a gray-tinged cloud morph from a blob into a Volkswagen Beetle. No, that's a silver Honda with a dented fender just like Charlotte's. And despite not wanting to remember, I'm caught in a memory that won't let me go.
"You remember how we met, don't you?" Charlotte asks. My room is dark. I'd thought she'd fallen asleep. Her sleeping was so erratic then. "Remember?" she says, "Mr. Bunting assigned us that history project? I thought for sure it was going to be a disaster, until you looked up at me with those big old doe eyes of yours and this funny smile on your face, and I knew right then that we'd be friends."
But I remember it differently. "I was so nervous I started babbling."
Charlotte laughs, her wind chime laugh that makes the air around her shimmer. "That's right. You said you didn't want a partner — actually you kind of yelled, 'NO'— but he insisted, and I stuck out my hand and said, 'You can call me Charley.' And then you said" — she waits for me to fill in the blank.
I laugh and bury my face in my pillow.
"Go ahead, Bec. What'd you say?"
I toss my pillow at her. "'My brother's name is Charlie and that would be weird.' That's what I said. Little did I know how weird it would get."
She fakes insult and hugs my pillow to her chest. "You mean how awesome it would get?"
I didn't ask for my first real friend to start dating my older brother, but life is full of surprises.
Some of them more deadly than others.
"Quiet down, folks," Mrs. Jonah says to the class now. The excitement about partner work has continued to build around me. "I'll be assigning the partners."
Everyone groans, and my insides bunch up thinking of Charlotte again. My fingers are getting tingly, my eyes sting, and my head feels too big. I realize I'm holding my breath. This is why the memories are so dangerous.
Mrs. Jonah pulls out a slip of paper and reads off the partner assignments. As names are called small bubbles of excitement burst around the classroom. There are four of us left, and we eye one another like we're the final four tributes in the Hunger Games — the dark-haired Max, a blond guy with an unfortunate case of acne, and a girl whose purple fingernails match her purple cowboy boots. Her hands are fisted on her knees, and the tips of her ears are rosy. It reminds me of my brother Charlie. His ears go red whenever he's embarrassed. But I don't think this girl is embarrassed.
And then there's me, fighting to keep the anxiety in my stomach curled into a nice, tight, controllable ball.
"Max," Mrs. Jonah says, reading from a clipboard. He nods. "You and Brian will work together, and —"
"Mrs. Jonah," Purple Boots interrupts.
"Meggie and I work really well together and I thought maybe —"
"You'll work with Becca."
Darby of the purple boots looks once at the girl to her left — Meggie? — before sighing and unclenching her fists. "Yes, ma'am," she says with a tight-lipped smile. When she glances at me, I notice a flutter of dread in her gray eyes.
I'm amazed at the strange power I now wield as the dead girl's friend. My classmates may have never noticed me before Charlotte. But now that she's dead, their eyes slide right off me like I'm wearing an invisibility cloak. They don't want to see me. I make them feel things they don't like. I get it. I feel lots of things now that I don't like.
Mrs. Jonah addresses the class. "Now, with these last ten minutes, get together with your partners, get acquainted, and discuss your expectations and any ground rules for critique you'd like to establish."
Whatever discomfort Darby felt a moment ago passes quickly. She has long dreadlocks, and she tosses them, whip-like, over her shoulder, and I'm struck by how different we are — like if we were books she'd be shelved with the thrillers and I'd be something like, I don't know, candlemaking.
Instead of moving to meet with me, she glares at Mrs. Jonah, her purple boot tapping out an angry rhythm on the metal leg of her desk.
There is no way I'm getting up and approaching her. It'd be akin to poking a pissed-off badger with sharp purple claws. The room hums as everyone shifts desks and chairs around. Max glances between Darby and me once before he moves to sit across from his partner.
Mrs. Jonah keeps looking at me. She's noticed that we're the only pair that hasn't moved. She had to have known this was a bad idea. There should be a bulletin board in the teacher's lounge with posters of troublemaker kids — like the wanted posters in the post office — so that teachers know what they're getting before you walk in their doors.
Mine would say:
WANTED FOR THE OBSTINATE REFUSAL TO WORK WITH OTHERS REBECCA JANE HANSON
And it'd have my yearbook photo, the one where I look like the camera is a zombie about to eat my face off, smack-dab in the middle. I don't know. Maybe they do have stuff like that. Maybe teachers just like to think they can change us. The way Mrs. Jonah keeps looking at me makes me think she believes she can get me to move with sheer will.
It's creeping me out. Normally, I'd stuff my face in a book so I wouldn't even notice her looking, but this is English class, and I'm not allowed to read in English so ...
I don't know what else to do. I force myself to stand and walk toward Darby, giving Mrs. Jonah my best when-she-maims-me-I'm-blaming-you look. My heart alternates between wedging itself in my throat and fisting itself into my stomach. Mrs. Jonah smiles.
I tell myself that Charlotte would be proud of me. I'm taking initiative. I'm putting myself out there. I'm walking through fate's open door. I'm not paying attention to where I'm going, and now I'm tripping over the blond, acne-prone boy's bag.
I gasp, and my hands do a flailing thing, like a fast-pitch softball pitcher throwing two balls at once. I stumble forward, my ankle trapped in one of the backpack straps, arms still flapping, and I face-plant into Max's lap.
Hello, Max's lap.
Max jumps because it's obviously not every day that a girl's face ends up in his lap.
That's not fair. Maybe it is normal for him. I don't know him. Either way, it probably doesn't happen in class. So Max jumps up, swearing under his breath, but he manages to grab my head before my temple smacks into the desk beside him.
I'm not sure I'm painting this picture too well. I'm now on my knees. Max is standing and holding my head. Everyone is laughing. Except the acne kid, who is swearing because I've ripped the strap of his backpack.
And Darby. Darby's not laughing. She's just watching.
The bell rings, and everyone leaves as Max helps me to a seat. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, Becca," Mrs. Jonah says, walking up the aisle, "that was quite a fall."
Mrs. Jonah looks from me to Max. "Well, then, Mr. Herrera, I'll let you handle this." She nods, a quick bob of the head.
Darby is lingering in the doorway. "Please, Mrs. Jonah," Darby says, "couldn't I work with Meggie?" Mrs. Jonah shoos her into the hallway.
Max shifts his weight as he stands in front of me. I can't look at his face, but if I look straight ahead, I'm staring at his crotch, which only reminds me that my face was just smashed into said crotch.
I look up and focus on his T-shirt instead. It's faded gray with a picture of the first edition cover of A Wrinkle in Time. The cover is blue with three green circles and many black circles all interconnected. Each green circle has a silhouette inside. It's one of my favorite books — has a great first line.
It was a dark and stormy night.
"She's amazing," I say.
Max crosses his arms, covering the middle of the three green circles and the man standing inside it. "Darby's a drama qu —"
"Madeline L'Engle is amazing." I point at his chest.
Max's skin is the color of a well-worn penny, but his cheeks brighten to a coppery glow as he drops his arms to pull on the hem of his shirt and studies it. "Oh. Yes. She is."
"It's a cool shirt," I say.
He licks his lips and smiles, sliding into the seat across the narrow aisle from me. "Thanks."
I finally take a moment to study his face. It's a nice face, deep brown eyes, longish nose, wide, sharp cheekbones and, although his lips are chapped, they are full and a delicious shade of — what the heck is wrong with me?
I jump up, knocking our knees together. "Sorry," I say, only it comes out wobbly sounding. "I'm sorry for" — using your manly bits as a landing pad? Um, no — "for, you know, the thing." I grimace at him instead of smiling, probably looking a bit like a skittish dog baring its teeth. Then I rush for the door.
"Becca, wait," Max calls as I'm two steps shy of the hallway. I drop my chin to my chest and turn around. There's no way I'm looking at his face ever again.
"Your books," he says, scooping up my bag. When I reach for the strap, he doesn't let go. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Without my brain allowing it, I look up at him. Yep. He's still adorable. "No, I'm not okay. But thanks for asking." He calls my name again as I'm running away, but I don't turn around.
* * *
Without Charlotte, I've been forced to ride the bus home from school each day. It's not as bad as it seems. No one on the bus cares if I read. If you sit near the front and keep your head down, even the bus driver ignores you. It's kind of the best part of my school day.
I've just left my locker for the bus lot. I've already got my copy of Jane Eyre open to my page and can't help but read as I walk, because the faster I can leave school and get back to Thornfield the better. Of course, I'm not looking where I'm going (book nerd problem number seventy-two) so it doesn't take long for me to run into someone in the crowded hallway.
The someone turns around and I'm facing A Wrinkle in Time again.
I look up at his face. "Max." My glance skitters away, bouncing from the red lockers across the hall, to the shiny tile floor, to the way Max's hand — his fingernails short and square — grasps the strap of his backpack.
Max shifts his weight, leaning back to get a glimpse of the book cover in my hand. "Walking and reading, eh?" He nods at my open book. "Always knew you liked to live on the edge."
I frown at the joke, because it's been months since I've been expected to interact with real live humans, and I'm a little rusty.
Max licks his bottom lip and presses on. "So, are you —?"
"Thank you for your condolences." I instantly want to punch my brain. What is wrong with you? Why can't you just say normal things?
Max's whole face is flickering with a thousand expressions as he stutters, "Wha — oh, um, you're welcome." Then he smiles.
"Okay, well, I have to go." I refocus on my book and head toward the bus lot.
"Do you want a ride home?"
"It's no problem. My friend Victor lives around the corner from you, and I take him home every day. We pass your house."
"You know where I live?" My hands are clammy from all the adrenaline, and I try to wipe them on my jeans without him noticing.
"I'm not a stalker or a creeper or whatever." He presses his lips together. "Saying that kind of makes me sound like one, huh?"
"It's just — Victor and I, we've seen you get off the bus. It sucks to ride the bus — I know — and it's no trouble."
I take a deep breath, trying to slow everything down, and in that breath I pause. Max smells like honey and boy soap, sharper and spicier than girlie soaps. It reminds me of the cedar wood behind Gram's house. The smell of him makes me want to close my eyes and rest my head on his chest and just breathe.
"Uh, no, thank you. I like the bus." I take a step away.
"You do?" One of Max's dark brows arches upward.
I take another step, this time in the direction of the buses. "Yes."
"No one likes the bus, Becca." Max falls in step with me.
I grab a piece of hair and begin tangling it around my index finger. "I do."
"You didn't ride it last year."
I yank at the tangle of hair. "What?"
"Victor and I were on that bus last year. I'd have noticed you."
"That was different."
"I had a friend —"
"Who offered you a ride? How's this different?"
She smelled like vanilla, and you smell like clean, spicy bees. "No. Thank you, but no."
Excerpted from Life After Juliet by Shannon Lee Alexander, Heather Howland, Jenn Mishler. Copyright © 2016 Shannon Lee Alexander. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was hesitant to read this book as I figured it would leave me ugly crying. When I was in high school I had three good friends killed in a car accident, through no fault of theirs, and I still remember the horror of being told this by the mother of another friend of ours. I went to more funerals in three days than I had ever been to before in my life and it was eons before things ever went back to "normal" (if they ever did). I was lucky that I had other friends to lean on during this ordeal and we supported each other in many ways. I can't image the pain Becca went through not having other close friend to talk to but I definitely understand her losing herself in her books. This is similar to how I reacted when my hubby was diagnosed with lymphoma and something that got me through many sleepless days and nights. The saving grace here is that I also found myself laughing at Becca and having been through a similar loss at this age, understood her anger and uncontrolled rage at the unfairness of life. One of the friends I lost was the twin sister of a guy I adored and I understood the pain she was in. This is the first book of Alexander's I've read and I'm definitely going to keep her name in my watch pile. It will probably be awhile before I can physic myself up to read Love and Other Unknown Variables, however.
LIFE AFTER JULIET was a surprisingly down-to-earth, bitter-mixed-with-humor, and sweet story. The dialogue and tone were both well carried. The characters were lovable even when frustrating to the reader because they felt authentic. The way the drama production of Romeo and Juliet was weaved through the story and how it was portrayed in these characters' lives was marvelously done. This is not a retelling, but a story that was heartfelt and unique with moments of laugh-out-loud humor mixed with soul-wrenching sadness and friendships and romance that brought love and hope. Recommended to readers who enjoy contemporary YA. So lets dive in... These characters. I mentioned that sometimes they're frustrating. They are! I wanted Becca to break free and live, but at the same time, I got it. I wanted her to pull down her walls, especially in regards to Max. Her grief is so very real though. I loved her relationships with her brother and with Darby and some others. The conversations were seriously so fun and spot on. I loved the bluntness and teasing. I have to say that I loved Becca (she grows on you more and more as the story goes), but I really loved Max. He was such an interesting and amazingly talented character. Sweet, humble, and solid. He gets Becca, but even more, he's willing to stand by her even when she doesn't realize he's there. I loved his presence in this story and how his persistence wears Becca down but also lifts her up. There was such a lovely mix of humor, honesty, sadness, and romance in this story. I think the reason this story really worked for me was not only the great characters, but the overall voice of the story and that it was balanced so well between the sad/hard things and then the good/fun things. Then there was this journey for so many characters in how they changed or became. I loved how the characters, drama crew, and production all evolved and just the general vibe or tone of the story. I really like this line from Becca that shows a little of the honest humor and sums up the feel of this book: ". . . So, as a friend of mine once said to me," I pause and find Victor at the fringe of the crowd. "Let's go break all the legs that ever were." In the end, was it what I wished for? Yes. I would have loved it to be cleaner, but it was realistic. I loved the characters, how Romeo and Juliet was part of it, and the bittersweet plot and romance. I'm planning on definitely going back and reading the first book, Love and Other Unknown Variables, especially after meeting Becca's brother, Charlie. Content: Some language and innuendo. Source: Received a complimentary eARC from the publisher through NetGalley and a tour host, which did not affect my review in any way.
Wow. So. Good. I loved Becca's story. I've procrastinated reading the companion book (Love and Other Unknown Variables) because the last "kids with cancer book" I read (TFIOS, of course) made me lose it while walking the dog (audiobook--I wasn't actually reading while walking--that time. Becca's right, attempting to walk and read hard copies can cause real problems). But now, of course, I'm going to have to read it. Soon. Though probably just pulling up the title page will make me cry, But anyway. Juliet starts with Charlotte's funeral--Becca's Charlotte's best friend, and her brother Charlie (hero of Variables) is her boyfriend. Then it jumps forward in time, and we see Becca back at school without her BFF. She measures time in how many pages she's read (which OMG, my reader heart just loved. I'm so tempted to do the same, except how sad would that make me? Becca managed to stop by the end of the book, which I'm pretty sure is a measure of her growth...but still. It's awesome) and she has far more contact with fictional people than actual living, breathing ones. Which apparently, is a problem. ;) I'm kidding. I know it's a problem. Really. Honest. Anyway, it takes a handful of very-much-alive people to help Becca see that she can/will/must rejoin the land of the living even though Charlotte isn't a part of it any more. Max bravely blazes the first trial, making it hard for Becca to ignore him, telling her about the play and tech crew, and foisting his crazy, loveble friends on her and her lonely lunch table. Victor, Max's BFF, provides the comic relief and gives Becca a much-needed kick in the butt where her relationship with Max is concerned. Mr. Owens, the director and theater arts teacher, casts Becca as Juliet (against her will) and also gives the entire cast the inspiration to take the play in a whole other direction, further propelling Becca out of herself and back into the world. And Darby, the drama club's undisputed queen? She just scares the crap out of everyone. And joins Victor in the Becca-butt-kicking. Life After Juliet made me laugh--and cry. Mostly happy tears, this time. Watching Becca come alive again (in some ways, almost for the first time--she was pretty much a loner before Charlotte, apparently) and coming to terms with her grief is a funny and touching experience. Whether you've experienced her level of loss or not, it's bound to have an effect on you. It worked fine as a standalone, though I'd imagine if you've already read Variables it will have even more impact for you. Plus, if you haven't read Variables, you're probably going to want to. Soon. I'm just saying. Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Becca is struggling to come to terms with the death of her best friend, Charlotte. One fateful day changes all of that: Mrs Jonah partners her with the dreadlocked Darby in English literature class; Becca has a run-in with cute Max Herrera; and a red flyer for Romeo and Juliet, Charlotte's favorite play, is the catalyst that brings them all together. Becca finds herself slowly working through a bucket list - though more by accident than by design. And, along the way, she might just find herself. This is the story of a young girl struggling to cope with the grief of living without her best friend. There are poignant flashbacks of Becca's conversations with Charlotte, but there are also plenty of light-hearted moments. The book features a cast of memorable characters, including the absolutely adorable Becca and Max, Max's best friend Vincent, drama queen Darby, Romeo Thomas, and theater director Mr Owens. The story is told from the point-of-view of Becca the bookworm, who measures time by the number pages she reads. Her narrative is full of gorgeous similes and metaphors relating to reading and the pages of books. Becca even describes people by trying to find the words an author would use to describe them in a book. There are plenty of fun references to books like "Harry Potter" and "The Hunger Games" and Becca's favorite, "The Velveteen Rabbit". Another nice touch is the chapters labeled as acts and scenes in a play. This is a treat for real book lovers like Becca. Another winner by author Shannon Lee Alexander. She sure does have a way with words. Your heart will melt. I received this book in return for an honest review. Full blog post (8 July): https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2016/07/life-after-juliet-by-shannon-lee-alexander.html
Becca is grieving the death of her best and only friend, Charlotte. She spends every minute she can with her head buried in a book, avoiding the world, her grief, and making connections with people. She is socially awkward and thinks people don't notice her. But they do. When Becca face plants into Max's lap in class, and after a little pursuing from Max, they become friends and Becca starts to come out of her shell. She signs up for the school play and starts to live. Charlotte's death and grief hang heavily over Becca as happiness in her new life wars with guilt over moving on. The lovely teen romance between Max and Becca moves slowly and is PG rated. Becca's relationship with Max is important in her new life, but so are the people around her. Max's best mate, Victor, provides comic relief while frienemy, Darby, helps hold a mirror up to Becca's life, forcing her to face things she'd rather avoid. This is a beautiful story about a girl learning to move out of her comfort zone and live life after the death of a loved one. I note this is a companion book to Love and Other Unknown Variables but I read it as a standalone. Love and Other Unknown Variables has been added to my 'to read' list but knowing what I know, I'm not sure if my heart can take reading Charlie's story. Perhaps I need to take a leaf out of Becca's book and move out of my own comfort zone. Reviewed by Veronica at Wicked Reads. Veronica received a free copy of this book to read & review.
I had NO idea this was a companion book to Love and Other Unknown Variables which I have not read. But now I NEEEEED it you guys. Like, yesterday! To say I loved Life After Juliet would be a crazy ridiculous understatement! There are just ... no words to express the feels. This isn't just one of my favorite books of the year, it's one of my favorite books of ALL time! It was unbelievably well written. The main character Becca is going through so many things. Her best friend died and she has just withdrawn into a bubble. She doesn't ever want to feel that loss again. She retreats into the world of books, choosing to live in the stories unfolding on page rather than in the real world. I can completely identify! But things completely change when she gets involved in the school play Romeo and Juliet. She meets Max, who..let me just say is my FAVORITE male character. I wish he were real..oh how I wish he were real. I'm not going to say another word because you need to read this amazing book for yourself!
** This is a companion novel. Love and Other Unknown Variables should be read prior to Life After Juliet.** I ADORED Love and Other Unknown Variables when I read it back in 2014. It hit me right in the feels. HARD! I wasn’t expecting to love that book as much as I did, so it was such a wonderful surprise. I’ve been patiently waiting for Life After Juliet’s release ever since. Though this isn’t categorized as a series and this can be read as a stand-alone, I HIGHLY suggest reading Love and Other Unknown Variables first. Actually, don’t even read this synopsis. Go right into LAOUV with zero idea what to expect. Then let me know what you think. I have a feeling you guys will enjoy it as much as I did. Becca is grieving the loss of her best friend, Charlotte. With Charlotte’s passing, Becca dove straight into books as a way to escape the real world. She hasn’t made any new friends or done much of anything, other than read, and she’s completely happy with it that way. It’s easier to close down than try to deal with the grief. That is, until she meets Max. I adored Becca and Max’s friendship-plus-more relationship. They were both struggling with grief, learning how to deal with loss. Losing someone you love is something you really never fully get over. Yes, it may get easier to deal with, but the grieving process itself never ends. For Becca, this was a difficult concept to accept. She wanted to be “normal” again, which was pretty much impossible. Since Max had also experienced loss of a loved one, he could completely relate. I loved how much they fed off each other, learned from each other, and really grew quite a bit in the process. I’m so happy with how Shannon Lee Alexander brought this all together. I was so curious about Becca and how her life would go after Charlotte’s death, so having this story bring it to conclusion for me is so important. I also loved how broken, lost, and suffering Becca was in the beginning, compared to how much she grew at the end. Character growth is so important to me in a story like this, and Shannon pulled it all together perfectly. Another book that I’m recommending you guys read!! I must stress that you really should read Love and Other Unknown Variables first. We get to meet Becca in the first book, and seeing her in this second one will mean so much more if you already know her a bit. Add this one to your TBR’s, guys. It’s a wonderful look at depression, grief, familial support, and learning to have fun in life again after a tragic event. Plus there’s TONS of swoons and silly, laughable moments. It’s the total package!