2020 Recorded Books
Read by Alma Cuervo
Finished on April 17, 2021
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, has had the rug pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves—lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack—but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words.
Afterlife is a compact, nimble, and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including—maybe especially—members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost?
While browsing through a list of audiobooks offered by Libro.fm, I came across Julia Alvarez's name, which I recognized as the author of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. I haven't read that particular novel or any others by Alvarez, but this one sounded promising so I decided to give it a try. It's a slim book (only 272 pages) and the audio is not quite 6 1/2 hours in length, so it's a fairly quick read.
I enjoyed Antonia's story as she learns to live with the loss of her husband and the unpredictability of her grief during the past year. I also liked the storyline about Mario and his pregnant girlfriend Estella, who comes into Antonia's life unexpectedly. I would have preferred that this thread be the main focus of the novel and eliminate the other part, which involves Antonia's three sisters. I didn't care for the long, drawn out drama of their relationships with one another and thought the sisters were indistinguishable from each another. I grew annoyed and impatient to return to Mario and Estella's story, but kept listening, as Alma Cuervo is an excellent reader; her accent smooth and melodious.
I didn't fall in love with this book, but there are parts that I enjoyed greatly. So much so that I'm tempted to get a copy of the book at the library in order to read some of those passages a second time.
I received a complimentary copy from Libro.fm.