{Review/Giveaway} MY LIFE AFTER NOW by Jessica Verdi

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Today, Jessica Verdi stopped by to talk about the influence of musical theatre in MY LIFE AFTER NOW!  

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

THE DRAMA CLUB HOMEROOM WAS BUZZING with post-summer chatter, but I didn't look up from my copy of Romeo and Juliet.  Auditions were this afternoon, and there was no such thing as being too prepared.  I closed the play and ran through the monologue by memory. "O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?" I whispered to myself, my long hair hanging like blackout curtains around my face.  I got so into it that it wasn't until I got to the part about it is not hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man that I realized I was no longer whispering.  I giggled and looked around quickly, embarrassed.  But the only person who seemed to be paying me any attention was Ty.  My beautiful, talented boyfriend.
"What part of a man might you be referring to, my dear Juliet?" he teased, a dark eyebrow raised.
"Why, the ears, of course," I said, all innocence.  He laughed and put an arm around me.  I snuggled into him and promptly turned my attention back to my work.
(page 6, US e-ARC edition)

Sixteen-year-old Lucy had it all.  Great friends, the perfect boyfriend, loving parents, an easy time at school. Until her rival Elyse steals the role of Juliet out from under her nose...and then steals her boyfriend, too.  On top of that, Lucy's birthmother has returned and interrupted everyone's lives.  Desperate to forget her problems, Lucy and her friends head out to NYC to blow off some steam.  The next morning, Lucy wakes up with a wicked hangover..in someone else's bed.  She puts it behind her and moves on, getting over her ex and meeting someone new.  But her past comes back to haunt her in a big way when she discovers that she's contracted HIV, and goes from having the world at her feet to a lifetime of uncertainty.

The subject of HIV and AIDS is treated tenderly; Lucy goes through so much on her journey and readers will want to wrap her up in a big hug.  This isn't a preachy book, but it gives a lot of information in ways that feel natural.  There's also a strong look at the power of support, from Lucy's two dads who love her despite everything to the people she meets at group meetings.  Her relationship with her friends changes and evolves through the various stages of her journey, and Lucy learns that she can still embrace life despite having HIV.  She comes out stronger due to the trials of having to grow up way too fast.  Everything feels realistic and on point in a balanced way, resulting in an emotional read.

MY LIFE AFTER NOW is the type of book that teachers should buy for their classroom libraries, the kind that should be read in Health Class, the sort that needs to make its way into the hands of teenagers.  It's poised to join the ranks of hard-hitting classics such as GO ASK ALICE and SPEAK.  In today's Health Classes, we have sex ed. units revolving around abstinence and pregnancy and the proper use of condoms.  There's not much to be said after the fact.  If the worst happens, will students know what to do or who to go to?  We talk about before in the classroom, not about after.  Many teenagers caught in this situation are scared and don't know who to turn to.  They might not have the amazing support system that Lucy does.  Or maybe they do, but they're too scared to find out...which will only harm them in the long run.  We talk to kids about sex and pregnancy, but we need to be more open about other matters as well.  MY LIFE AFTER NOW is an important read in the genre that shouldn't be overlooked.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

While covers with a girl's back to the readers as sunlight bathes her is common on YA titles, there's still something interesting about the girl.  She could be anyone, and that's exactly the right way to go.  A mistake can happen to anyone at anytime.  She's being bathed in light, with everything to gain--or lose.  The future is hers to decide.  Even the color of her dress shows thought and depth.  Too cheery?  Maybe.  But it's certainly eye-catching!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Jessica Verdi
Release Date: Out April 2, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Received: For Review

Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of. 

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family? 

Now her life is completely different...every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.

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