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Mar 12, 2018

Life After by Katie Ganshert

Life After by Katie Ganshert
WaterBrook & Multnomah April 2017
eGalley provided via NetGalley, thank you!

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.

I was super stoked to get a chance to review this title on NetGalley after I got over my surprise that it was even still available on the site. It was actually released last year but as I was looking for the next book by Ganshert this is what popped up. So I took a look at the premise of WHY (the everlasting gobstopper of a question that always appears when tragedy strikes and we wonder if there is a God up there watching all this unfold) I could not pass up the opportunity to see if there was an answer to WHY.

It was a fantastic story with themes of sinners, deception, truth, survival, rebirth and of course tragedy. The story focuses on Autumn Manning struggling with survivor's guilt a year after the tragedy and her life becomes entwined with a family whose mother/wife was lost in the event. It's full of awkwardness as Autumn tries to understand her own emotions while struggling to seem normal in front of her family and the sudden acquaintance with Paul Elliott's family who is attempting to move on from losing the mother in their family. It turns out there are quite a few secrets to reveal before anyone can really move on, but relationships can blossom or wilt depending on how hard one wants to work at it.

The book was a could-not-put-down type of read and I am really sorry to let these characters go. The Mannings were a big extended family complete with little mewling kids and then there were co-workers and every single one of those characters just fit so well into their role in the novel that I could just gush on and on. The ones left behind - those who are trying to just live a normal life after losing a loved one- they all bore a strong role in the cathartic way the novel pulls you along as you can't help but to root for Autumn while one setback after another tries to thwart her slow recovery.

I was sad when I finished and I thought I was perturbed that the reason 'why' is never answered as far as who caused the train wreck that touched so many lives. But then I figured maybe that was the point. We never really know why. "Maybe it was time to let go of the why and remember the Who."

Read my other reviews of K. Ganshert titles here.

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