RATING: READ IT
Sometimes, when life is moving a thousand miles a minute, the greatest gift I can give myself is carving out a little time to sit and read. Getting lost in the lives of others, reading their adventures or misadventures, helps me unwind and gives me the much needed pause in my day-to-day. This has been one crazy week for me and I desperately needed that relief. What a sweet surprise I found in The After of Us (A Judge Me Not Spin-off Novel) by S.R. Grey. This was my first time reading Ms. Grey, but what a wonderful introduction!
The After of Us is an incredibly gentle, second-chance story about Will + Emma. It’s also the story of first chances for Will + Lily. What? Same guy, two girls and the terms “sweet” and “gentle” have been used to describe it? Yes, but hear me out.
Will Gartner is a recent college graduate who managed to turn his life completely around (this is a spin-off of the Judge Me Not series of books, where the difficult lives of Will and his brother, Chase, are revealed and explained). On his way to New York to start a high paying, but wholly expected unfulfilling job, Will learns he fathered a child with his teenage love, Cassie, now a full-blown drug addict. Cassie leaves their daughter Lily, now five, in the care of her father and disappears. So, with nowhere to turn and not knowing what to do, Will turns to his brother for help. It’s in that turn that Will reconnects with Emma Metzger, a local school teacher and one-time crush of young Will.
With Emma’s guidance, Will is able to learn how to be the type of father he desperately wants to be for Lily while becoming the man he’s destined to be. A very fast read, The After of Us is a true standalone. I’ve not YET read the Judge Me Not series, although they are now on my to-be-read list, and had absolutely no problem following along with the story or characters. Ms. Grey provides all the background information needed to understand and deeply care for Will + Emma.
And, oh that Lily, what a little gem! Written as both a child and a child exposed to far too much in life thanks to her mother, Lily could charm a smile onto a snake. I hope we get more stories with her and will have the chance to watch her grow!