Monday, October 08, 2007

Nicole Baart's After the Leaves Fall ~ Reviewed

After the Leaves Fall
By Nicole Baart
Published by Tyndale
October, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4143-1622-2

For anyone who's ever wanted to start over ...

Julia Bakker's life had been marked by loss. After her mother leaves and her father dies when she's just sixteen, Julia is determined to escape the confines of her gossipy, conservative Christian town.

When her best friend and first love, Thomas, breaks her heart, Julia leaves for college—the perfect place to reinvent herself. But one wrong decision changes her forever, and she returns to her grandmother's farm, weary and defeated.

Yet hope takes root in unexpected places, and Julia discovers that starting over looks nothing like she imagined.

I loved this book. From page one, Baart's distinctive style engrossed me. After the Leaves Fall is a beautiful portrait of a young girl struggling with life, love and decisions. Julia wants to be someone else, or at least not who she is. Life hasn't been kind to her. She grew up with a mother who didn't want to be a mother. She preferred Julia call her by her first name instead of mom. The only bright spot in her life was her father, who loved her unconditionally.

Julia wasn't bothered much when her mother left one day and never returned, but when her father dies, she's devastated. Baart skillfully and beautifully exposes Julia's grief, raw and multi-layered. She's left with wounds so deep, she doesn't like to talk about her parents to anyone.

I don't often read such complex emotions written with such credibility. I believed every word. After the Leaves Fall is the kind of book that leaves you wanting more. I'm glad there's a sequel, and Baart is an author to watch. Her debut novel is highly recommended by this reviewer.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

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