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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
While this novel has been described as a combination of murder mystery and coming-of-age tale, I found it to be primarily a look into family dynamics, especially the relationship between two teen sisters, Rachel and Patty.

Although there is a killer targeting young women in Marin County, I felt that the ongoing series of murders never took center stage. Instead, the sisters' enduring connection shone most brightly. In childhood, they seemed almost joined at the the hip. Inevitably, they had to forge their own identities, with some tense and rocky moments along the way. But ultimately the bond held.

The murders in this novel are loosely based on those of a real-life serial killer, nicknamed the Trailside Killer. Maynard was inspired to write this novel after meeting two sisters whose father had been head of Marin Country Homicide when the Trailside Killer was at large. They were generous enough to share not only the details of the murder investigation with Maynard but also those of their childhood in Marin Country. Perhaps that is why both Anthony Torricelli, the fictional detective in After Her, and the life of his family in the late 1970s, seems so believable.

A "heads up" for potential readers: while there are indeed descriptions (but not very graphic) of women stalked and murdered by a serial killer - and the desperate hunt to catch that killer - those expecting a breakneck series of suspenseful events are likely to be disappointed. Yes, there are two pivotal and violent events which are riveting. But while reading most of the book, I felt the murders took a lesser role to the relationship between Rachel, her sister and their parents.

One of this book's strong points is the portrayal of teen lives in 1979, when it was still considered relatively safe to roam the streets and woods near home. Since events are told from Rachel's point of view, she is naturally at the heart of the book. Maynard is skilled in depicting even minor characters, from Rachel's unreliable high school friends to her first boyfriend and their awkward sexual encounters.

Then there are Rachel's parents. Her depression-prone mother. Her father, so obsessed with finding the man behind the murders, is portrayed so sharply that his sense of helplessness, his growing pain, made me feel compassion for this very flawed man. Although the first murder hits hard, every subsequent murder takes a greater toll - and breaks his spirit that much more. He is so determined to find the killer that he becomes an increasingly distant husband and father.

Time for a confession: I'm a fan of the author and have read every single book she has written. I always look forward to her next one. So I don't have the perspective of a first-time reader of the author. I'd be interested in reactions from those who are reading After Her before any of Maynard's other books.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In Joyce Maynard's new novel, "After Her", first person narrator Rachel Torricelli recounts the "tween" life she and her younger sister, Patty, share just north of San Francisco, with their divorced and distant mother and their pop-in-and-out father, Tony, a Marin County detective. Rachel and Patty are precocious yet innocent loners who find interesting and inventive ways to entertain themselves since their mother can't afford TV. At the beginning of the summer of 1979 several young women are murdered on the mountain right behind their home; the mountain that they regularly play on. Their father is the detective on the case and they want to help him catch the murderer; Rachel has a plan.

Maynard does a wonderful job of telling the story from the point of view of a young girl during that strange and confusing time between childhood and womanhood. Her setting of the 70s is wonderfully evocative of so much that I remember of that time; music from The Carpenters to Led Zeppelin, movies, clothes (designer jeans were just coming on market), TV shows, 8-tracks, early VCRs; the song "My Sharona" proves chillingly apt.

In the middle of the novel the story started to drag and become repetitive and I almost stopped. I'm glad I didn't though, because it soon picked up the pace and twists I had not foreseen were revealed.

Though this is about a young girl, I would not recommend it for a juvenile audience as there are detailed descriptions of rape, murder and sex that I would deem inappropriate for younger readers.
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on August 23, 2013
Loved this book!
Joyce Maynard has a gift for smoothly combining genres, a rare gift indeed. After Her is the story of the relationship between two young sisters and their often absent police detective father, whom they idolize. Told from the main character's adult perspective of looking back at the time when her Marin County town was in the grips of a serial killer, this book offers the reader the best of both worlds -- a compelling story of love and loyalty and a suspenseful mystery that will keep you guessing until the last page.
I bought this book to take on my vacation, but finished it before I'd even started packing - it's that good!
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VINE VOICEon July 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This could have been a tolerable 20-page short story, yet it was dragged out to make an incredibly boring 350+-page novel. The writer seems to have been copy-pasting expressions, sentences, paragraphs and even entire scenes time and again just to fill up space. And the scenes that get repeated dozens of times are extremely trivial.

Just to give a couple of examples, we hear time after boring time that Rachel finds hanging out with Alison boring compared to spending time with her sister. And then we hear it again. And again. This is obviously not a hugely complex idea, so I don't know why the author decided to hammer it in so many times. The narrator worries that she isn't getting her period. And worries. And worries some more. In the exact same words, she reiterates her worry dozens of times. And what do you think happens eventually? Yes, she gets her period. Which was as easy to predict as absolutely everything else in this mind-numbingly boring joke of a novel.

The character development in AFTER HER is non-existent. At 43, Rachel is exactly as she was at 13. Thirty years passed by without helping her gain any intelligence or even a modicum of self-awareness. For somebody so obsessed with narrating the most trivial details of her family history, Rachel is signally incapable of analyzing what happens in that family or why.

The so-called mystery that organizes the boring plot of this miserable excuse of a novel is based on one improbability after another. Nothing makes sense, and if you are hoping for some big revelation in the end, then stop. The ending is just as mundane, boring and repetitive as the rest of the book.

I considered dropping this novel many times but I just needed to make absolutely sure that I wasn't being unfair to it. I also found it hard to believe that anybody would write or publish a book that doesn't even attempt to say anything interesting. When I reached the last page, I realized that my hope was misplaced. This is, indeed, a completely impotent, useless book that doesn't even try to make sense.
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on October 31, 2013
By reading the first few chapters, I thought this would be an interesting read. However, the middle of the book becomes something of a "Ground Hog's Day" in that the characters seem stuck in doing pretty much the same things, with almost identical descriptions, over and over. The ending was contrived and implausible. The forensic science was non-existent. If the author had edited out the extraneous and repetitive material, the story could become a passable, much shorter novel. I felt like I wasted much of the time I spent reading this book.
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on March 9, 2015
Honestly, I hate leaving negative reviews about books. But maybe it'll save someone else from spending hours reading something that should have been a short story -- and even then it wouldn't have been very good. For example, Maynard seems to think that readers need to be reminded in just about every chapter that the father is a handsome ladies' man. Okay, okay, he's handsome -- I got it after the first thirty-four mentions.

Then there's continual repetition of how the sisters grew up poor, with none of the nice things other kids had because their single mother had no money. At the same time, their father is a detective with the Marin County police force, and eventually becomes head of the department. He should have been making decent money. But there's no mention of child support or him helping their mother financially, even though he's still very much a part of their lives and continually telling them how much he loves them. Seriously -- he couldn't buy them a pair of nice jeans or make sure they had something to eat besides crackers once in a while?

And of course, the whole "we were so poor" thing is repeated ad nauseam. Actually, the entire book is just the drip-drip-drip of the same information over and over again. And as for the "story," don't bother. There's a ridiculous tacked-on ending that totally fails. So I guess at least it's consistently awful.
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VINE VOICEon October 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a great book with well-developed characters and a vivid picture of the relationships in a 1970's family. The bigger than life hero worship of their father, the remote mother who keeps to herself, and the attitudes of people in the 1970's rang true. The close bond between two young siblings left to their own devices reminded me of my own childhood and my sister. I loved reading about Rachel and Patty and the days spent making their own entertainment on the mountain in their backyard. The serial killer and how that portion of the story develops was a complete surprise from what I expected when I picked up this book. Great reading. I tend to neglect my paper books in favor of the convienence of reading ebooks, this book was good enough to overcome that and kept me reading my traditional copy right to the end. It's a fast read but without being rushed, rich and full, a savory treat for a lazy afternoon or two. I plan to find more by this author. If you know or have ever been a 13 year old girl, this book will evoke recognition. If you have ever lived or visited the Bay area during the 70's this book will refresh your memories. It you like coming of age stories, this one will ring true. And if you like a different view on a murder mystery, then this one will pique your interest.
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VINE VOICEon December 21, 2013
AFTER HER

I really enjoyed reading this book -- it was fast-paced, suspenseful, exciting, full of surprises. Joyce Maynard nailed this one, writing about a serial killer, a family in the throes of disintegrating, the same family obsessed with this serial killer's rampage, and sisterly love. Stitch all of these threads together and the outcome is a heck of a great read.

There is a serial killer on the loose in California and Anthony Torricelli is on the case. Women are turning up dead and Anthony won't rest one minute until he can find the killer. His marriage is on the rocks and his two daughters -- Patty and Rachel -- mean the world to him. However, his obsession with this killer keeps him away from his family and is practically taking over his entire being.

Narrated by Rachel, the sisters see how this case is consuming the life of their father. These two young girls simply ADORE their handsome, funny, kind, marvelous dad. However, they see less and less of him as the Sunset Strangler creates a reign of terror as more and more victims turn up. This puts a strain on the already troubled marriage of Anthony and his wife, and consequently, Patty and Rachel are pretty much left to their own devices. They truly fend for themselves -- their mother comes home from her job and retreats to her bedroom, reading. She is not there for her girls so Patty and Rachel come and go as they please, cook for themselves, and depend more and more on each other for everything.

The girls also become obsessed with the Sunset Strangler and the book takes off running. The action is non-stop, the characters so down to earth, the antics of the two sisters are so true anyone who has a sibling can relate to their young adventures, heartaches, wants, and the every day pains of growing up. The plot is good and full of their escapades and their on-going quest to help solve the mystery of the strangler.

This book had a few grisly situations described in careful detail but isn't upsetting and goes hand-in-hand with the story line. While reading one cannot help but try to figure out who the strangler is -- Maynard throws in just enough twists and turns to keep you engrossed in the book and to keep you guessing.

Having already read Maynard's THE GOOD DAUGHTERS and LABOR DAY, I was very anxious to read AFTER HER. All three books have been great reads and I strongly recommend all of them. I will certainly be reading more of Maynard.

If you enjoy a good suspenseful mystery filled with great characters and a good story line, this is the book for you. You won't be disappointed.

Thank you.

Pam
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on November 18, 2013
The very things that I liked about the book are many of the things others found to dislike. I grew into my early adulthood in the 70's, so the music and the headlines were like a homecoming. It seemed like we were all just becoming aware of the (serial) killers in our midst and so many of them seemed to be in California. Distant enough to fascinate and yet be safe. Perhaps there was a bit of repetition on certain subjects (although I looked at the reviewer's name to be sure it wasn't a man who was getting freaked hearing too many times about periods. Honestly, I do remember wondering when it was going to happen and I'm sure other girls did and still do. So it rang true for me. Sort of like how it must be for boys wondering about body hair and muscle and when will they have sex for the first time. Yes, the story was more about family than the murderer and maybe those who are most disappointed didn't understand that fact before purchasing the book, If you like reading fiction about family dynamics and coming of age, you should like this book. If you want true crime stories, read some Ann Rule.
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on June 9, 2014
I was expecting something of a thriller based on the description of the book. Not at all, it was more about the relationship of the father to his two daughters which was not fun to read. He was selfish, a womanizer, self-centered and it was hard to believe that his daughters grew practically in poverty considering he was a District Attorney. I mean really, he didn't even have dental insurance to get his daughter braces? Both the mother and father were very neglectful, selfish parents and I got tired of reading about them. No suspense in this story. Don't bother
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