AFTER IT’S OVER

Cover aPaige Birch is trapped, both by the past and by her unhappy marriage. She’s devoted to her husband and stepdaughters, but Ben is never home. Is he cheating? His three daughters have problems, and Paige is too often left alone to battle those problems.

And Paige is haunted by the untimely death of her parents, a tragedy that cost her the love of her life.

When her husband’s lies threaten to destroy their family, Paige finds herself with a choice. Will she stay with the family that needs her, or will she turn to a man who may not want her anymore?

Michelle Alstead’s After It’s Over is a timely novel, given the national attention given to domestic violence. (The death of Paige’s parents could have been ripped from today’s headlines.) But don’t expect a lecture. Alstead’s story is character-driven, and even the hapless husband, a genuinely despicable character, is well-rounded, and to some extent, sympathetic.

Alstead explores redemption in a complex way, posing the unusual question: Is the intention to change a sort of redemption in itself? I won’t say more about that, but Alstead’s resolution is both satisfying and insightful.

After It’s Over is a fine novel. Alstead’s prose is clean and direct. Her characterization is brilliant.

You won’t find the cardboard characters, manipulation or template plot so common in genre fiction. This is literature. It’s fun (in a hand-wringing sort of way), and it’s a smooth read, but it’s literature. (Five stars out of five)

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