[Epub] ↠ Afterlife Author Julia Alvarez – Rvtrek.info
What a story to lose yourself in I have been meaning to read Julia Alvarez for some time, In the Time of the Butterflies, How the Garc a Girls Lost Their Accents, etc., but I just kept putting it off for some reason Afterlife has propelled her works back to the front of the TBR pile So many emotions and deep reflections were packed into this petite novel, I can only imagine what she does with even pages.The best thing about this book is the dynamic between Antonia and her sisters I so rarely get to read things where a woman in her sixties is the main character, and this book has four of them Alvarez writes Izzy, Tilly, Mona and Antonia with such life and candor that I can t imagine that they aren t based on real people When I read the description I was drawn in by the mention of a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep , but I absolutely stayed for the interfamilial conflict At the heart of this story is grief and loss, relayed with such raw compassion that yeah, I ll admit it I cried a bit We watch Antonia struggle with loss long after the sympathy wave has dissipated She pinballs from one crisis to another in order to distract herself from the empty space, both literal and figurative, that now inhabits her life She s making decisions and responding to situations differently than she had before, and is left wondering which choices are her own I ve recently discovered one of my most read sub genres is Death , so I guess this is right up my own morbid alley The question that Antonia, Alvarez and the reader keeps being drawn back to is a philosophical one what do we owe one another And also to an extent, what do we owe ourselves There s no easy answers provided here None as binary as nothing or everything The answer lies probably somewhere in the middle, in the excruciatingly non specific something Yes, we owe each other something Otherwise, what s the point of it allThanks to Algonquin Books Netgalley for an advance copy The First Adult Novel In Almost Fifteen Years By The Internationally Bestselling Author Of In The Time Of The Butterflies And How The Garc A Girls Lost Their AccentsAntonia Vega, The Immigrant Writer At The Center Of Afterlife, Has Had The Rug Pulled Out From Under Her She Has Just Retired From The College Where She Taught English When Her Beloved Husband, Sam, Suddenly Dies And Then Jolts Her Bighearted But Unstable Sister Disappears, And Antonia Returns Home One Evening To Find A Pregnant, Undocumented Teenager On Her Doorstep Antonia Has Always Sought Direction In The Literature She Loves Lines From Her Favorite Authors Play In Her Head Like A Soundtrack But Now She Finds That The World Demands Of Her Than Words Afterlife Is A Compact, Nimble, And Sharply Droll Novel Set In This Political Moment Of Tribalism And Distrust, It Asks What Do We Owe Those In Crisis In Our Families, Including Maybe Especially Members Of Our Human Family How Do We Live In A Broken World Without Losing Faith In One Another Or Ourselves And How Do We Stay True To Those Glorious Souls We Have Lost 3.5 starsWe women often tend to put other people s needs above our own Even when we are facing crucial issues in our lives, we will set those issues aside if we think someone else s problems are pressing This is exactly what Antonia Vega does in Afterlife Less than a year ago, her husband Sam died suddenly, and the pain of loss is still raw She keeps telling herself she is going to make herself number one, but she gets sucked into other people s drama and puts her own healing process on hold Antonia has a sister with some mental health issues, and this sister goes missing While she and her two other sisters are dealing with this crisis, Antonia is also sort of forced into a situation where she has to help some teenage undocumented workers, putting her at risk with law enforcement Only when these two incidents have been resolved does Antonia finally start in earnest to do the work of healing herself and finding a new life as a widow My favorite character was the one who s not there, Antonia s husband Sam She knows he was a better person than she is He was generous, less judgmental, willing to help others without hesitation He lived by a saying his mother used when someone had a problem Let s see what love can do Whenever Antonia is feeling small minded, or petty, or selfish, she thinks of what Sam would have done in the same situation and she acts accordingly Her hope is to give Sam an afterlife by keeping the best parts of him alive in herself I would have liked a little depth, exploration of Antonia s grieving But Alvarez keeps it fairly light, given the subject matter It s a slight little novel with very readable prose I finished it in less than 24 hours It s written in the present tense and has no quotation marks Normally this would bother me, but in this case the style was so straightforward that it wasn t a problem.This book will be available April 7, 2020. Not long ago I read and was so taken with In the Time of the Butterflies and I was anxious to get to Alvarez s other novels I was given the opportunity to read her newest and I couldn t pass it up On a personal note, this was not the best book I could have chosen to read at this time, but fortunately there is an abundance of love and kindness and hope on these pages Also, the fabulous writing helped me focus on reading than I have been able to this last month It s an introspective story of a woman s grief, having lost her husband and a sense of who she is without him It s a story covering so many things the need to be needed, love of family, relationships with sisters especially, each with their idiosyncrasies who deeply love each other It s about the timely issue of immigration and about mental illness as well It s a beautifully written, sad but uplifting novel Having read this makes me want to get to Alvarez s earlier works for sure.I received an advanced copy of this book from Algonquin First Reader s Club and Edelweiss. Right up to the current minute, this lovely book contains many hot button issues without being preachy Antonia, the central character who has been dealt a double blow, triple or quadruple if you count outside influences, had immigrated from the Dominican Republic Her husband, who dies suddenly on the first page, was the town optometrist and was regarded as something of a local saint They live in a small Vermont town where she has just retired from her position as a professor of English Lit at a local college But life intervenes and won t allow her to wallow in her grief, pulling her in several directions that as mentioned before, addresses the current immigration crisis, sisterly bonding, bi polar illness, and answers the question of whether an up to date sticker on your car indicating you ve donated to the policemen s guild will save you from getting a ticket Gracefully written and incorporating quite a bit of humor, highly recommended. I ve enjoyed Alvarez s work in the past, so I was incredibly disappointed when I read her new novel It s about Antonia, a recently widowed retired professor, her relationships with her sisters, and some undocumented immigrants she connects with through a man who is working on a neighboring Vermont farm The problem was that I found I didn t care about any of the characters, and the plot seemed disjointed I did not find even one likable character, which is a fiction deal breaker for me Thanks to Edelweiss and to the publisher for this ARC. At a time when a tide of meanness is sweeping over the country, we need someone to stand up and remind us what it means to be human And who better than Julia Alverez to do so Her first adult novel in 15 years is here and it s a winner It will appeal to anyone who has had the fortune to experience the messy, wacky, frustrating, and wonderful joys of sisterhood anyone who has stood at a painful crossroads trying to piece together the broken pieces of her life and anyone who has ever been driven to ask herself, who is the most important one The plot is straightforward a recently retired professor named Antonia, whose husband suddenly dies, is thrust into competing situations One is the demands of the sisterhood with its own eternal rules Never remain dry eyed when a sister is crying and Don t ever let on you can survive, or would want to, without them The other is closer to home a mid teen, undocumented teenager scared and needy on her doorstep It has the makings of a soap opera but in Julia Alverez s capable hands, it is far from it It is an authentic tale of every woman striving to carve out the space and time to give to others without denying her own needs and importance The author asks What do we owe those closest to us What do we owe a desperate stranger What do we owe the dead and most of all what do we owe ourselves Juxtaposed on these dual plots is the sad realities of today the hunting down of young immigrants who are just trying to survive and those who have the compassion to help them in their darkest hours The book shines a spotlight on how challenging life is when we forget that we are all fellow human beings.This book filled with Julia Alverez s legendary storytelling made me care for the characters and feel right along with them A big thanks to Algonquin Books who allowed me to be an advance reader in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.This novel tackles how we care for each other Antonia, the main character, is a recently retired professor of English originally from the Dominican Republic Just as she retired, her husband died of a heart attack, which means that her retirement has turned into a time of mourning Antonia lives and secludes herself in her house in the Vermont I believe countryside She starts getting pulled back into the world when a young undocumented Mexican immigrant who works at the dairy farm next door starts working for her to do some repairs around the house Antonia, as a Latina immigrant herself, has some understanding of this young man s culture and how he relates to both her and his other employer with the deference that springs from being utterly dependent upon them both for his safety and sanctuary Antonia has four sisters and all the sisters squabble with each other, care for each other deeply, and have fallen into expected roles Antonia herself has been given a church bells ring tone by each of her sisters because she is a rule follower Antonia has had career success and had let her doctor husband be the heart of their marriage while she was the head , the worrier, the cynic Her sisters feel that she can be judgmental When faced with another person s problem, Antonia tends to pull from her vast store of literature and make some sort of quote that, while it applies to the situation at hand, isn t always the useful response that her family needs.Two things ramp up the plot First, her young immigrant friend asks to use her phone to call his girlfriend It turns out that this girl is heading from Mexico to him but they have run afoul of the coyotes who have been transporting her Second, Antonia s sister goes missing This sister has shown quite a few signs of being bipolar but the sister also hasn t wanted medication for this issue and so she has become and impulsive and her judgement has become and impaired Antonia and her other three sisters end up on a hunt for her across the entire eastern seaboard Antonia keeps telling herself that she doesn t want to get involved in any of this all of these people can take care of their problems themselves But she s really bad at actually standing her ground in this and despite her best intentions her life becomes linked to all of these people in need The author does a great job of unspooling how people relate to each other through culture and class This is not a novel about illegal immigration, but that topic is addressed This isn t a book just about grief, although that s addressed too It also pulls in perceptions and prejudice, family dynamics It s a short novel for all of that, and I really enjoyed reading it This could end up being a great book club book. Afterlife by Julia Alvarez is a wonderful piece of literary fiction This is the first book I have read by Ms Alvarez, but as I enjoyed this so much, I am going to be sure to read This book brings into play a lot of family and social dynamics sisters relationships with siblings, family death, death of a spouse and soulmate, mental illness, and balancing one s needs while also addressing other s needs This book also addresses a lot of emotional issues as well love, loss, and acceptance in the abrupt passing of Antonia s husband Sam, hope and belief that a life can be better lived that takes shape from the situation of undocumented immigrants that is placed on Antonia during the course of the novel, love and fear and frustration and compassion in regards to Antonia and her sisters in the situation with Izzy s mental issues and temporary disappearance And finally optimism, acceptance, and perseverance in the ability for Antonia to overcome the all encompassing loss and change to her life from losing Sam and creating a new existence to the years she has hereafter I love that she is creating a way to keep Sam alive and with her by always considering what he would have done if he were still alive, and in that keeping a part of him always with her in her path forward That is a lot to say in such a small story, but the author was able to weave all of this together in a beautiful tale full of characters, imagery, and fabulous text and quotes I thoroughly enjoyed this book.5 5 starsThank you NetGalley and Algonquin Books for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my and BN accounts upon publication There You, who quite truly knew him, can quite truly continue in his spirit and on his path Make it the task of your mourning to explore what he had expected of you, had hoped for you, had wished to happen to youhis influence has not vanished from your existence from The Dark Interval by Rainer Maria RilkeReading about the death of a loved one during the time of Coronavirus is difficult I feel the cold blade of fear which I daily push back down into my subconscious, then tie my hat and crease my shawl to perform my tasks and obligations.Afterlife is the story of Hispanic retired literature teacher Antonia who mourns the loss of her husband Sam She struggles to understand how to now live Her sisters are calling her to join them in confronting their sibling s bipolar illness An illegal immigrant employed by her Vermont farmer neighbor implores her to help him bring his girl to join him.All these demands Antonia just wants to tend her own garden and live with her sorrow But knowing Sam has changed her His compassion remains an example of how to live in this world Sam seems to be resurrecting inside her, and she wonders, is this all his afterlife will amount to Saminspired deeds from the people who love him Antonia s mind is filled with the books she loved and taught, including Rainer Maria Rilke Last year I had read The Dark Interval which shares Rilke s letters of condolences Alvarez s novel embodies Rilke s philosophy.Against her nature and inclination, Sam leads Antonia to risk becoming involved in the lives and problems of other people Living your life is a full time job, a sister justifies Isn t that the truth Then, a therapist reads Rilke to the sisters Death does not wound us without, at the same time, lifting us toward a perfect understanding of this being and of ourselves Antonia s students always responded to Rilke s poem Archaic Torso of Apollo which ends, you must change your life It is a line that has haunted ever me since I first read it The question Antonia wonders, is how and when do we change it It is a question to be asked over and over There is no end to such a consideration We read a book and what we learn reminds us that we must change our life We see a work of art, Rilke his Greek torso, for Antonia the Landscape with The Fall of Icarus, or when hear a symphony, or observe a beautiful spring flower or a deep woods filled with birdsong All the world is life changing if we allow ourselves to truly live and open our senses and hearts and minds To be alive is life changing To die is life changing.Antonia accepts the challenge to be Saminspired Alvarez is a brilliant writer who has combined a deep reflection on existence with timely questions There is no better time for this message I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley My review is fair and unbiased.