“After you survive Anderson Massey your life doesn’t just pick up where it left off.” After Anderson by Jamila Mikhail wrenches your heart, challenges your soul, tests your personal morality and beliefs. I totally agree with the author’s statement in her commentary, if it “doesn’t bother you there’s something wrong.” We all need to learn to listen to the spoken and unspoken, and really pay attention to those around us. There were many aspects I admired, even more that I appreciated, and a few I could have done without. The story is multi-cultural, a bit political (honestly, my patriotism was battered a bit), yet very insightful. There is no denying, “The universe, with all of its flaws and disasters, was so beautifully and intricately crafted.” This line continues to echo in my mind. In saying that, how does one enjoy a book about a mass shooting? You don’t, but you do hope to gain an understanding of the cause of such a tragedy. Jamila Mikhail reveals the trauma that lingers long after such a violent act. After Anderson is the story of a survivor.
Written in the first person, the heroine’s thoughts and emotions are explicitly described, thus felt. Page by page, her character grows and evolves beyond the tragedy. She befriends an unlikely duo, the twins who open her eyes, change her perspective and encourage her to move forward. One of the key elements within the narrative are the letters between Aly and Anderson; they create raw realness and depth of soul. The words exchanged in those passages are my favorite part of the story. As the story concludes, the denouement reveals that life truly goes on. There is life “After Anderson.”