FICTION

Afterlife

Algonquin. Apr. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781643750255. $25.95. F
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In this return to adult fiction by Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents), a retired English professor and writer is caught between her sisters’ drama and the plight of a pregnant undocumented young women—all in the wake of her husband’s death. Antonia Vega is still grieving for Sam a year after his fatal car accident, getting by with the help of aphorisms from her favorite poets. When eldest sister, Izzy, disappears during a manic episode, her Dominican sisterhood convenes, bringing along their usual baggage. Meanwhile, a documented worker from the neighboring farm seeks Antonia’s help in finding a place for his pregnant girlfriend. Antonia navigates these tumultuous occurrences with Sam and what he would do as her guiding principle. In this life after his death, the protagonist realizes that the best way to memorialize her husband is to embody what she loved most about him. Alvarez’s prose is magnetic as she delves into the intricacies of sisterhood, immigration, and grief, once again proving her mastery as a storyteller. This stirring novel reminds readers that actions (big and small) have a lasting impact—so they should always act with love.
VERDICT An incisive book that will burrow itself into people’s hearts and stay long after they’ve turned the last page. [See Prepub Alert, 10/7/19.]

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