Sarah's Stars

Gary Soto. The Afterlife
Harcourt Books  US$6.95  ISBN 0-15-205220-8  158 pg.
Reviewed by Hayley, Age 13

"I closed my eyes. When I opened them a minute later, I was dead."

Chuy is an innocent, average, senior student at East Fresno High, with nothing but parties and girls on his mind. At a club where Chuy goes to dance, (his real incentive to pick up the attractive chica, Emily) he tangles with the wrong guy in the men's room, who subsequently pulls his knife and murders him. As Chuy dies painfully in the empty washroom, his soul rises above his body. Chuy realizes that he is a ghost with more power than he thought. Although strong winds may take him wherever they please, he can walk through walls, fly through the sky and send a chill into any being he pleases. His life has finally got interesting! And he is going to make the best of it. Sounds easy? Not really! As he watches his family suffer and struggle with his death, Chuy realizes that he has a limited time on earth. His mother wants to avenge his death, but Chuy knows that's a bad idea. How can he stop her plans, help his ghostly friend, and get back at the carbon that killed him before he disappears forever?

The Afterlife is an intriguing paperback novel written by Gary Soto. This juvenile fiction novel is suitable for ages 12 and up, but I would recommend it for an older teen age group, having more understanding for the characters' thoughts and feelings. The Spanish glossary at the back of the book helps you to understand many of the Spanish words throughout. Other books by Gary Soto are Petty Crimes, Buried Onions, Canto Familiar, Baseball in April and many more.  I haven't read any of his other books yet, but I would be interested in reading more to see how they compare to The Afterlife.

"Sweet and sarcastically funny." - YM.  Yet I'm not sure how to explain The Afterlife, as it is different from all other books I have read. Gary Soto is an original author, who plays with the mind and adds many different feelings and emotions into his writing. Although I thought the book was clever, I thought that the plot could have been stronger and the ending more conclusive.

I rate this book 3.5 stars.


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