29 September 2013

After Alex Died by Dakota Madison - Book Review

 “Don’t be someone who defines her life by someone else’s death.” 

Dee Dee DeMarco’s brother, Alex, was funny, free-spirited and creative. He was also gay. Tormented by bullies, Alex killed himself on his 15th birthday.

Two years later, and now in college, Dee Dee believes getting a summer job working with a college-prep program for disadvantaged high school students is a stroke of luck, until she discovers that the guy assigned to co-lead her group is Cameron Connelly, a star basketball player and one of the bullies who tormented her brother to death. How can Dee Dee possibly spend the entire summer working so closely with one of the boys she blames for her brother’s death?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I think this is a little story with a lot of heart. I hope you think so, too!

And how long are you going to be someone who defines her life by someone else's death?

The author is so right - After Alex Died is a short story with a whole lot of heart. Unexpectedly, the story had touched me - it made me sad, angry, hopeful, and inspired. This was not your ordinary love story, ladies and gentleman - before you know it, Dakota Madison will creep her way into your hearts, because this story will make you FEEL.

How can something short affect you like that?!

Dee Dee DeMarco wears nothing else but black.

"Black pants, black skirt, black shirts. Do you have anything that's not black?""My underwear."Sofia glared at me. "That's the thing that should be black."
Two years ago, her beloved 15 year-old brother, Alex made news on national TV when he decided to kill himself. He was gay, constantly tormented by bullies at school. When he can no longer take it - he decided to end his suffering by taking his life. Dee Dee found him lifeless, after that night, her life was no longer the same again. She became recluse, withdrawn and depressed. She lost her boyfriend, her friends and her life. The only difference between her and Alex is that she was breathing.

The death of Alex also drove her family apart, finding herself homeless and dorm-less for the summer she decided to sign up for a job working with a college-prep program for disadvantaged high school students. She thought it was a stroke of luck until she found out whom she is working with - the high school star basketball player, Cameron Connelly, one of the boys who bullied her brother to death. Can she possibly work with him, much more stay in the same room with him for the whole summer knowing that he was the reason his brother died?

But Cameron was no longer the same c*cky, confident jock that he was in high school. Instead, he was almost the same as her - recluse, alone and guilt is eating him alive. His life was no longer the same after the incident. He had lost a lot, including his life, scholarship and his family. Meeting Dee Dee again had sprout hope in his heart - perhaps she can forgive him for all the pain that he had caused her, and then he can finally forgive himself.

Them, together was a lot of hard work. Fighting off her attraction to Cameron takes a lot of effort than guarding the soon-to-be-in-college kids. There was no way she's crushing on and much more falling in love with someone who is responsible for Alex's death. But as the days goes on, as they spend more and more time together, - Dee Dee gets to know him a little better each day. Dee Dee found herself healing, her heart opening to possibilities. Can she do it? Can she give Cameron her heart?

Grief has a way of affecting people. But indeed, how long will you allow someone's death to affect your life? I feel sad for Dee Dee for everything that she has been through. Being very close to Alex and losing him in a painful, unimaginable way can be very hard. Bullying is a growing concern in the school system everywhere in the world, it had drove a lot of kids not just out of school, but into ending their lives as well. Yes, Cameron might be an a**h**e, he might have stood there and even participated with his friends in tormenting Alex, but people change. It might have cost him a lot, and he was no longer the same person as he is before. He has regretted his actions and is ready to make amends. If it's only THAT easy.

This is a story about overcoming grief, second chances, and learning to forgive others as well as yourself. After Alex Died is a short, meaningful read that will touch your hearts, make you cry, fall in love.

*ARC Copy was given in exchange for an honest review.
Romance novelist, Dakota Madison, has been writing since she learned to read and fell in love with books. When she's not at her computer creating spicy stories, Dakota is traveling to exotic locales or spending time with her husband and their bloodhounds.


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