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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Katie Ganshert: Life After



By Kelly Bridgewater

It could have been me.
     Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.
     A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.
     Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake. 
     In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.


From Amazon

My Thoughts:

I, personally, have never read anything by Katie Ganshert. I have heard about a number of her books and love the covers but have never moved them up in priority to my read now pile. But when the chance came up to be on her Launch team, I jumped at the chance. Her newest book Life After looked really interesting. While the novel is labeled as a contemporary romance, I think it goes deeper than that. With rich characters and an interesting plot, I'm really glad I spent time with Autumn and Paul.

With any good book, the author has to write clearly enough for me to follow the story. Ganshert does a good job at this. Her writing is clear and concise. She doesn't head hop, and she allows the characters to speak what is really bothering their soul. The setting was described well that I could see the bus station or downtown Chicago, which I have been to a number of times since I only live three hours away.

Right away, Ganshert grabs my attention with the prologue and keeps my attention from then on. The story starts with nameless characters. (Don't worry. The characters will be revealed as you read the story!) These characters run into each other and then I feel the bomb go off. Chapter one starts with Autumn the only survivor of the story showing her existence in the world. The story really doesn't slow down at any time. Ganshert's completely original and unpredictable novel about how to move on after something tragic in life happens really spoke to my heart. I couldn't wait to uncover how Paul and Autumn were going to change.

Change  . . . boy, did both characters change. A good novel has a transformation of its characters. Both Paul and Autumn were different people by the end of the book. At the beginning, Autumn is a shy, timid woman who completes numerous puzzles and avoids social interactions. Whereas, Paul is trying to handle being a single father to two kids and keeping the secret of his marriage in the dark. Unfortunately, Ganshert peels away their coverings and allows both of them to rely on each other and learn how to move on. One of my favorite things about Life After is Ganshert's abilities to reach inside each character and spill their inner turmoil on the pages. I completely empathized with Autumn and Paul, rooting for them to find happiness and peace in their struggles.

While the story held my attention, I did have one issue with the plot. What actually happened on the train? I see the bomb explode in the beginning, then I spend the rest of the story following Autumn and Paul on their path to happiness. I wanted to see what actually happened. Maybe Autumn could have Reese, Paul's daughter, read a newspaper article with images about the incident. Or have Autumn show an article when she is looking through her scrapbooks of the dead people. She probably has a number of the articles since she is so obsessed with the incident. Allow me, the reader, to see what happened. How destructive was the mess? Obviously, it was a huge mess if 21 people died from a bomb. This could be just me.

In conclusion, Life After by Katie Ganshert is a gut-wrenching story that buries deep into the human emotions after a horrible event. Maybe even having the reader nodding in agreement with why bad things happen to good people. Life After is a story that will stick with me long after I close the book.

I received a complimentary copy of Katie Ganshert's Life After from Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishers, and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

When you pick up a highly recommended author, do you find yourself enjoying their books or not? Why or Why not?

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