I have a list of books tucked into my notebook that I keep close to my heart: books that I’ve hugged as soon as I’ve turned the last page. These books have touched me so viscerally and powerfully that I literally did not want to let them go and therefore, I hugged them.
This book is on that list.
The Road to After by Rebekah Lowell is a heartbreakingly beautiful book written in verse that captures the complexities of family, the long-lasting effects of abuse and the glimpses of hope that keep us going.
Lowell introduces us to Lacey and her family, a family literally kept hostage in their home by an abusive father for many years. Propelled by a frightening chain of events, Lacey’s mother finally finds the courage to leave with the help of her family.
Suddenly, Lacey is thrust into a new, unrecognizable life and has a hard time letting go of the unwritten rules of her old one. She moves cautiously with her father’s words haunting her mind yet the pull of art and nature invites her forward into new experiences and opportunities.
Over time, Lacey begins to see and experience the world for what it offers, not what is to be feared. She begins to trust in the promise of change, begins to heal through her connection with art and nature and creates new rules for herself over time.
Lowell so beautifully captures this frightening and heartbreaking time with a sense of hope and unquestionable love. There is a place for every reader here. Some readers will feel seen. Some will feel called to help and others will simply appreciate the life they have and better understand what a privilege it is to make it our own.
It’s a book to be hugged.