After a terrorist attack kills Dani’s aunt and unborn cousin, life in Argentina—private school, a boyfriend, a loving family—crumbles quickly. In order to escape a country that is sinking under their feet, Dani and her family move to the United States. It’s supposed to be a fresh start, but when you’re living in a cramped apartment and going to high school where all the classes are in another language—and not everyone is friendly—life in America is not all it’s cracked up to be. Dani misses her old friends, her life, Before.
But then Dani meets a boy named Jon, who isn’t like all the other students. Through him, she becomes friends with Jessica, one of the popular girls, who is harboring a secret of her own. And then there’s Brian, the boy who makes Dani’s pulse race. In her new life, the one After, Dani learns how to heal and forgive. She finds the courage to say goodbye and allows herself to love and be loved again.
The intensely personal story of 16-year-old Dani and her family unfolds in the early years of the new millennium in Buenos Aires during Argentina's economic crisis ("It seemed like we lived in a country where every day the floor was sinking a little farther under our feet," she reflects). Her father lost his sister and her unborn child in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA building, a Jewish community center, and his clothing store has closed amid the economic tumult, leaving him "angry, unpredictable, and bitter." As such, money and food are scarce (Dani's father refuses to accept charity); additionally Dani's best friend has moved to Israel, her boyfriend's family is heading to Miami, and city violence is increasing. Dani's mother decides to move the family to Twin Lakes, N.Y., which they hope will be a financial and cultural refuge, but despite Dani's new friends, it is difficult to assimilate in post-9/11 America and to forget the tragedies in her past. The languid pace and wealth of details in Littman's (Purge) empathetic story magnifies its emotionally convincing and absorbing qualities. Ages 12-up. (July)