It’s really hard to put a book down when reality balances well with fiction and pushes an important agenda without being, well, pushy. There have been many books written with domestic violence as its central theme. There is a reason why it is one of the most common themes in a lot of commercial fiction – it is a topic that is still prevalent in today’s society and needs to be highlighted.
Linda Green’s After I’ve Gone separates itself from these books in several ways. For one, the book uses fiction to emphasise the psychological struggles of someone in such a situation. Jess, for some bizarre reason, has been given the gift of foresight through, of all places, Facebook. She can see what’s going to happen to her in a year.
She dies (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s the premise of the book). One day, she opens her Facebook profile to find her friends and family posting heartfelt messages because she’s dead. Jess doesn’t know how she dies and who kills her, but as she goes through the posts every couple of days, the information starts to trickle in. When she finally figures out who kills her, Jess decides not to do anything to change her apparent future.
The big question then is, why would someone not do everything in their power to change their future when they know they’re going be murdered? Green portrays a compelling argument why one wouldn’t want to change their future, which clarifies as you read through Jess’s journey into her last year on the planet.
The second thing that makes After I’ve Gone an outstanding read is the fantastic character development of its protagonist Jess. At the start of the book, you meet the kickass young and vibrant woman who is just happy being herself – enjoying life with her best friend, Sadie.
But as you follow her journey after meeting the glamorous man that is to be her future husband, you see her change into a scared introvert who is afraid of her own skin. It is frustrating watching someone who used to be so happy fold in on herself until there are no traces left of the woman she used to be (which is the point the author is making about how domestic violence changes its victims).
Green shifts from past, present and future so well that at times you wonder if Jess is having a nervous breakdown and maybe it’s just all in her head. You can’t help but hope she finds a way to live, instead of just embracing the future that she’s read about herself on Facebook. You want to shake her, to wake her up, to slap her in the face – whatever it takes to help her save herself. Needless to say, you won’t be able to help but hope that the characters in the book have a happy ending of some sort.
After I’ve Gone is a definite page-turner you want to add to your TBR pile.
Kristyn M. Levis is a freelance writer, author and photographer based in Sydney. She is currently the managing editor of Her Collective and creative director of 3C Digital. Her first novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, was published in 2016. Book Two, The Girl Between Light and Dark, is out now.