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Book Review: In the Aftermath

Thursday, September 23, 2021


Hello, My Lovelies!  For three days I'm sharing three books for your Autumn Reading List.

Today's post features my review of Jane Ward's In the Aftermath.  While doing my research for writing this post, I was intrigued by the book's publisher, She Writes Press.  Check them out via the link!

About In the Aftermath

• Publisher: She Writes Press (September 21, 2021) 
• Paperback 

When David Herron—overwhelmed and despairing, his family’s business and finances in ruin due to the bursting lending bubble of 2008—takes his own life one chilly spring morning, he has no idea the ripple effect his decision will set into motion. 

Two years later, his widow, Jules, is now an employee of the bakery she and David used to own—and still full of bitterness over David’s lies, perceived cowardice, and ultimate abandonment of her and their now-teenage daughter, Rennie. Rennie, meanwhile, struggles socially at school, resents her work-obsessed mother, and is convinced she’s to blame for her father’s death. 

When Denise, the former police detective who worked (and, due to her own personal struggles at the time, mishandled) David’s case, catches sight of Rennie at her sons’ school, she’s struck by the girl’s halo of sadness—and becomes obsessed with attempting to right the wrongs she believes she perpetrated two years ago. 

And as all this unfolds in Boston, Daniel, the guilt-ridden young man who, in his old life as a banker, helped create the circumstances that led to David’s suicide, continues to punish himself for his sins by living half a life, working odd jobs and bouncing from one US city to another, never staying long enough to make friends or build something lasting. 

Ultimately, each of these very different people—all of them tied together by one tragic event—must learn in their own way how to say good-bye to the past and move into a brighter future. 

"Ward masterfully builds a sense of dread with mundane details in the first section, and the way that she finds significance in moments of ordinary, everyday life is reminiscent of the work of Anne Tyler. This deeply empathetic novel deals sensitively with difficult subjects. . . . An insightful and psychologically astute story of ordinary people moving forward after personal tragedy." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review  

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About Jane Ward

Jane Alessandrini Ward is the author of Hunger (Forge 2001) and The Mosaic Artist. She graduated from Simmons College with a degree in English literature and began working almost immediately in the food and hospitality industry: private events planner with Creative Gourmets in Boston, planner of corporate parties at The 95th Restaurant in Chicago, and weekend baker at Quebrada Bakery in Arlington, Massachusetts. She has been a contributing writer for the online regional and seasonal food magazine Local In Season and a blogger and occasional host of cooking videos for MPN Online, an internet recipe resource affiliated with several newspapers across the country. Although a Massachusetts native, Jane recently settled in Chicago after returning to the US from Switzerland. Find out more about Jane at her website, and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

My Review:

I was interested in reading In the Aftermath because I remember the 2008 housing and lending crisis well: I know of three families who lost fathers to suicide because they, like David Herron's character, couldn't cope with the financial losses and other consequences caused from the financial bubble.   I'm happy I read this book:  I couldn't put it down!  Jane Ward is a phenomenal writer, and she does an excellent job painting her characters.  The comparison made between her writing and Anne Tyler's is well-deserved.  All of the main characters are flawed, yet they're all so likable.  I was truly hoping for the best for them, that they could get past their guilt for their roles in David's suicide; they are burdened by the mistakes they've made either in David's personal or financial life.  In Denise's case, she struggles with her failure as a detective assigned to investigate the suicide, and she vows to somehow make it up to David's wife and daughter,  Jules and Rennie.  Ironically, there are a couple characters who could've helped David, yet they show absolutely no remorse. 

Dan's character will break your heart because he broke mine.  He can't get over David's suicide, and he struggles everyday with his depression.  If anything this book is a commentary on the importance of access to mental health.  The characters who seek therapy cope far better.  Also, the story highlights a failure of the educational system: Students should be taught how finance works (personal finance, markets, and what the Federal Reserve Bank really is), and finance should be required in every high school and college.  Too many educated Americans don't understand it.  Denise's desire to own a small business by using her baking talents to earn a living is the American dream, second only to owning a home.   

In the Aftermath will bring you to tears, but it is thought provoking as ordinary people grieve, question, and recover.  These characters will stay with me for a long time because I feel a strong connection to them.  The story's plot only spans about three years, and the ending, although hopeful, left me wanting more.  I would enjoy a sequel because I want to see how they are faring.

After reading such a heavy book, I feel like I deserve one of the cupcakes Denise buys for her sons Welcome Home Bakery.

Disclosure:  I received an ARC of In the Aftermath from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Thank-you, ladies, for allowing me to be a part of the tour!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


  1. Interesting. I think it sounds like a great book. A little heavy, indeed, but interesting nonetheless. Thanks for the review!

  2. You find some really interesting reads to show us. This sounds like a good one. I am watching a series called Hand of God about a Judge's son that attempts suicide and then survives to be on life support and the struggle each of the family deal with and then it is fictional so it has some intriguing mystery along with some religious aspects. Very interesting how these things effect the people left afterwards. I might have to see if the library has this one. Hugs. Kris

  3. I can't handle serious emotional books these days, I need happy escapes!

  4. This sounds very good, RJ, and timely. Thanks for sharing this -- I'd not heard of it and I will seek it out.

  5. This and your Day 1 books both look good. This one leaves me to wonder if the author isn't telling a story close to her real life. I know how suicide can have a ripple effect. I've seen it within my married family. Most definitely a sequel would be good. Chances are at least one character has moved on positively, and at least one is still in the belly of darkness, possibly masked so others don't see it.

  6. Thank you for your lovely review and being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  7. Thank you for spending time with my characters and giving your readers such a thoughtful review of the book. -Jane


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Hello, Lovelies!

I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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