Written by Kyle Banker, University of Miami
As a freshman in college, I think that teenagers would benefit from reading “The Aftermath” by Stacy Padula, as it showcases the prevalence of drugs in high school, and how these substances can be very harmful to one’s life progression. However, it is important to see main character Jason Davids’ period of transformation within this environment, as he is known around Montgomery Lake High to be a heavy drug user. But, throughout this novel, the reader sees Jason try to create a different narrative for himself by trying to stay away from drugs and become more connected to Pastor Mark and church in general. Based off this, teenagers will know after reading this book that there is always an escape to a bad reputation or bad choices, but you must remain determined and open to make the necessary changes to your life.
“The Aftermath” is also a great fit for adults as it shows the evident change in the upcoming generation when it comes to social issues and substances. Bullying and drugs have become very relevant in high school in the 21st Century, and adults should know that even though characters such as Jason and Chris are freshmen, they will still be exposed to these problems. Furthermore, it is likely that high school students do not share these experiences with their parents or family, so reading this book would grant a reasonable perspective towards what kinds of issues can arise for an average high school freshman.
While reading this novel, I most enjoyed the relationship between Jason and Jessie, as not only is Jessie a new character to the series at this point, but she also creates a positive influence on Jason. Specifically, it is clear that Jason is intrigued by her lifestyle, strength, and positivity as a human. As a result, this causes Jason to feel more drawn towards becoming opposed to drugs and instead progress himself towards turning into a loyal Christian. I am excited to see where this relationship goes for both individuals, but I would expect that Jessie will continue to be herself and will not create the downfalls that occurred in Jason’s former relationship with Cathy.
“The Aftermath” effectively presents the message to its readers that anyone can turn themselves around at any time. To be honest, it was clear that Jason remained in a very dark place in the first two books of the series, as he relied on drugs and substances to remain happy. However, in this novel, we see Jason become more focused towards improving his personae, along with transforming into an overall better individual. In addition, by the presence of characters like Katherine and Jessie, the book shows that it is important for all teenagers to surround themselves with good people in every environment in which you reside. Without these people, your life may not be what you would like it to be, and consequently, you could be affected by pills and alcohol if encouraged by the wrong influences.
At age fifteen, Jason appears to have it all: high grades, popular friends, a beautiful girlfriend, and nearly any worldly thing that promises enjoyment at his disposal. Despite this, there is a persistent emptiness inside his heart. After failing to fill the void with achievements, relationships, and illicit substances, Jason finds himself intrigued by Jessie: a rather quiet girl, who is the daughter of a local pastor. Jason cannot understand his sudden interest in her. How is it possible that she stands for everything his lifestyle opposes yet possesses the one thing he has been searching for all along?
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About Kyle Banker
Kyle graduated this spring from Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill. His favorite subjects include Biology, English, and Entrepreneurship. Some of his hobbies are playing soccer and hockey, volunteering, and being with friends and family. Kyle is studying Biological Sciences at the University of Miami.
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