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The Afterlife [Kindle Edition]

Gary Soto
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

You'd think a knife in the ribs would be the end of things, but for Chuy, that's when his life at last gets interesting. He finally sees that people love him, faces the consequences of his actions, finds in himself compassion and bravery . . . and even stumbles on what may be true love.

A funny, touching, and wholly original story by one of the finest authors writing for young readers today.

Editorial Reviews Review

Not many authors kill their main character on page two, but when Gary Soto does in The Afterlife the tactic results in a richly textured coming of age story. Chuy is a normal teenage guy, making his way in the barrios of Fresno, California, and hoping to impress a pretty girl. Carefully combing his hair in the restroom at Club Estrella, he only has a few moments to consider his "loverboy" strategy before his young life is (literally) cut short by a knife-wielding stranger who misinterprets a compliment.

Soon Chuy is floating above his bleeding body, embarking on a journey of personal exploration. As he drifts though his hometown (tightening his stomach muscles so as not to get blown off course) he manages to achieve many of the things he didn’t when he was alive--recognizing how much he is loved by family and friends, saving a life, punishing a thug, and even falling in love (with a ghost-girl who has committed suicide).

Soto has a knack for particularly apt comparisons ("the sun rose pink as a scar," "laundry hung like the faded flags of defeated nations,"), which brings beauty and clarity to this dangerous world of cholos and cabrones (and if you don’t know what those are, there’s a glossary in the back). Aside from a couple plot points left dangling, The Afterlife offers a tangibly detailed portrait of a young life worth living. (Ages 13 and older)--Brangien Davis

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-Soto's twist on the emerging subgenre of narratives in the vein of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002) offers a compelling character in the person of 17-year-old Chuy, murdered in the men's room of a dance hall the evening he plans to connect with the girl of his heart's desire. Unfortunately for both Chuy and readers, what happens after death is that the teen's once engaged and engaging spirit seems to dissipate along with his "ghost body." He floats around Fresno, CA, making seemingly random sightings of his murderer, local kids, and-only after a couple of days and at a time when his ghost body is beginning to dissolve limb by limb-other ghosts. He finds a new heartthrob in the form of a teen who has committed suicide and is befriended by the wise ghost of a transient whose life he tried to save. Grieving friends and family unknowingly are visited by Chuy, and he is startled to discover that his mother wants violent revenge for his death. This plethora of plot lines wafts across and past the landscape of a narrative as lacking in developed form as Chuy finds himself becoming. After a strong start, The Afterlife seems to become a series of brief images that drift off as though in a dream. Soto's simple and poetic language, leavened with Mexican Spanish with such care to context that the appended glossary is scarcely needed, is clear, but Chuy's ultimate destiny isn't.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 796 KB
  • Print Length: 177 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003K16PQE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,720 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 stars from me, 5 stars from my students... February 28, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although I find _The Afterlife_ to be a somewhat mediocre (if unique) book, I have had several students in my classes read this and respond with much enthusiasm. It is important to keep in mind that adults are not the target audience here, and there is something that really grabs the interest of male adolescent readers, at least those in my classes who have read this book.

As a teacher of often reluctant readers, I am always keeping my eyes open for interesting new books, not just from lists of recommended reading, but by seeking input from my students as well. This is how I was first introduced to _The Afterlife_ by Gary Soto. One of my students read the book and began to recommend it to others. After reading _The Afterlife_, many students have responded that it is one of the best, if not the best book they have ever read.

Several students read the book, then I decided it was time to read it for myself. I was disappointed. However, after reflecting, I could see the appeal for my students. In order to attempt to define the appeal, I need to explain the basic plot.

The main character, Chuy, a young Latino, is stabbed and killed after complimenting another teenager's yellow shoes. His spirit leaves his body, and his spirit slowly begins to pass into the next world. However, he is still able to move around and observe his world without being seen. Along the way, he meets a young lady who has also left her body and become a spirit.

If all of this sounds fantastic, it is, but although it can be unusual, Soto never lets his book become sensational.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Afterlife by Gary Soto March 30, 2006
By Trogdor
The book that i read was titled: "The Afterlife" by Gary Soto. It has 158 pages. It's about a high school boy named Jesus, but everyone just calls him Chuy. As you've probably guessed, he dies in the first chapter. The book is about him wandering around as a ghost.

I'll bet you're wandering about how he dies. Well, he dies in a bathroom, inside a night club, when he tells this guy, who was wearing yellow shoes, that he likes his shoes. The guy then stabbed him. Yeah, I know. pretty dumb way to die, huh?

First, he goes to his parent's house. They were mourning his death. After this, he wonders around Fresno, California. Hey, guess who he sees! He sees the man in yellow shoes. You know, the guy who killed him. So, he does what anyone in his situation would do. He scares the crap out of him. The next thing he does is he goes to his girl freind's house, and as you can imagine, she was very upset with his death. It's here that he realizes that he's slowly vanishing. His feet have already become stumps!

After this, he travels down the street, where he spots a girl who is also dead. She has just died. So, Chuy shows her the ropes of being dead, like how to float and other things that ghosts do. He was also kind of showing off. He finds out that her name is Crystal. When they first meet, he notices that his hands have already started to disappear. Chuy says he has some stuff to straiten out, so they decide to meet there the next day.

The next day, he finds out more about his murderer. Later, he also finds out a lot more about Chrystal, like how and why she died, and how both of them are connected. What will he find out about the man with the yellow shoes? How did Chrystal die? What will happen to Chuy? Well, if you want to find out, you'll just have to read it.

I would definatley recommened this book. I enjoyed reading it. I think it would be an excellent addition to almost any library.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as it sounds February 20, 2004
The Afterlife by Gary Soto seems like a really twisted, new book from the review, but after reading the first few chapters you get bored. Everything seemed to take forever to happen, and the book really isn't that long. Chuy, the main character, is also pretty boring. True, he tells us about his life when he was alive and the neat things he did, but he whines a lot and he just isn't someone you would care about. He doesn't pop out of the book like some main characters do. What I did like about the book was the writer used spanish words added a glossary. Take it out of the library if you still want to read it, buy don't buy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this book... June 16, 2004
The problem with killing your main character off in the first chapter is that it usually doesn't leave room for much of a climax in the end. I wanted to like this book, it's a great concept! The first chapter is very gripping, however, I just wasn't impressed with anything that followed. While the book is short, it seems repetitive and boring. Furthermore, the characters are very distant and unconvincing. While the entire book is spent following Chuy's ghost and listening to his thoughts and feelings, I never get a feeling of who he really is/was. Another downfall of this book is all the Spanish words thrown into it. Luckily there is a glossary included in the back, but since I *had* to know the meaning of every Spanish word I came across, I was constantly flipping to the back of the book. While it's interesting to study languages and cultures, I don't really think the words added anything to the book and they slowed down the flow of the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars literally my 10th time reading this book! (:
literally my 10th time reading this book! (:
Published 1 month ago by Samantha Hernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
Read it in high school it rocks Gary soto has you hooked since the beginning
Published 3 months ago by Adrian Hernandez
3.0 out of 5 stars Not only does it tell me that you need to give someone their flowers...
After reading Gary Soto’s “The Afterlife” I really have a new outlook on life. Not only does it tell me that you need to give someone their flowers while they’re living but just... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nita
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love it
Published 5 months ago by vsantosusmc
1.0 out of 5 stars Very upsetting
Not what I'm looking for. Someone pushing their version of religion again. Forget it.
Published 6 months ago by Ruth Dixon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a great book for reluctant readers, insightful yet humorous and easy to read. Great for young Latino populations.
Published 21 months ago by MustangLady2005
5.0 out of 5 stars 6th grade summer reading. The Afterlife
I liked everything about this book. It was very good. Gary Soto is an amazing author! I would most likely recommend this book to teenagers. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Madison Ramirez
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet
This book was heartfelt story and I really love it. From sadness to comedy this book reminds me of my friends caring for each other.
Published 22 months ago by precious
5.0 out of 5 stars Good story for students
I bought these books to help out a class in need. The students enjoyed the story and the lessons taught in the story. Read more
Published on May 17, 2013 by studentagain
3.0 out of 5 stars It's just okay.
This book seems a little silly in parts. I'm not really sure what the message is although, the central character does learn a few things about himself and the choices he's made.
Published on May 2, 2013 by Betsy's mom
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More About the Author

Born in Fresno, California to Mexican American parents, Gary Soto learned the hard work ethic through his share of chores, including mowing lawns, picking grapes, painting house numbers on street curbs, and washing cars. His hard work paid off at California State University at Fresno, from which he graduated with an English degree, and later at the University of California at Irvine, where he earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.Gary Soto is an acclaimed poet, essayist, and fiction writer. The awards for this multi-talented author are many, ranging from the U.S. Award for International Poetry Forum in 1977 for his first published book of poetry, The Elements of San Joaquin, to a Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award in 1985 for Living Up the Street, his first published work of prose recollections. His short story collection Baseball in April, was named an American Library Association's Best Book for Young Adults. In 1993 Gary Soto received the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children's Video for Pool Party, and in 1995 he was nominated for a National Book Award.His other credits include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the California Arts Council. Gary Soto is also one of the youngest poets to appear in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. Several of his books have been translated into French, Spanish and Italian.Too Many Tamales was named a Booklist Books for Youth Editors' Choices of 1993. Hazel Rochman of Booklist said, "Gary Soto is an accomplished poet and adult writer, and his children's stories are widely popular. His first entry into the picture book genre is a joyful success."When he is not writing, Mr. Soto serves as a volunteer English teacher at his church. He also enjoys eating at new restaurants, which he does often with his wife, Carolyn, and their daughter Mariko. Other members of the Soto household include their two cats, Corky and Sharkie. The Soto family resides in Berkeley, California.

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