A little while ago the lovely Emma from Never Judge A Book By Its Cover and I launched Let’s Talk YA. You can check out all of the books I’ve previously recommended, all of which are incredible UKYA books that I think need to be shouted about more. Today, I’m discussing the heart-breaking brilliant The Year After You by Nina de Pass.
Trigger warnings: guilt, homophobia, suicide, mental ilness.
San Francisco. New Year’s Eve. A tragic accident after the party of the year. Cara survives. Her best friend, G, doesn’t.
Nine months later, Cara is still struggling, consumed by guilt and grief. In the hopes of giving Cara a fresh start, her mother sends her to boarding school in Switzerland, a place where no one knows what happened–and where they never will, if Cara can help it.
But her new classmates Ren and Hector won’t let her close herself off. They are determined to break down the walls she has so carefully built up. And maybe Cara wants them to, especially Hector, who seems to understand her like no one else does.
The problem is that the closer Cara gets to Hector, the more G slips away. If moving on means letting go of the past–and admitting what she did that night–Cara’s not sure she can.
She’s not sure she deserves a second chance.
Why I Love It:
The Year After You shows one of the best portrayals of grief that I’ve ever seen, throwing me back to a tough time in my own life a few years ago. The whole way that mental illness is treated throughout the book was so caring and delicately handled, but without shying away from the messy realities of recovery. Very few books have made me cry quite like The Year After You did.
Cara is an incredible protagonist, flawed and unreliable, but also vulnerable and empathetic. The side characters were also really well-developed, with plausible motivations and hints of backstories. Overall, they were so realistic in their complexity and vivid emotions that I couldn’t help but connect with the vast majority.
The writing style was excellent, lyrical, expressive and flowing. I kept picking out quotes that I loved and would definitely read whatever Nina has coming next!
Her talent also extended to the wonderful setting of Hope Hall with lush descriptions. The fact that the story is set in an isolated boarding school adds an atmosphere of intensity to the plot and creates a family-like dynamic between the characters. It perfectly lives up to its name, with good depictions of support networks and ultimately being a place full of hope. Also I loved how the romance didn’t fall into the trap of insta-love and instead was more of a slowburn, again adding more realism to Cara’s story.
The Year After You is a stunning, moving contemporary about grief, recovery and the importance of friendship that everyone needs to read.
Have you read The Year After You? What did you think?
As always, please check out Emma’s blog for her recommendation and we will be talking on Twitter, so please get involved and use the hashtag #LetsTalkYA.