Before and After

ISBN: 0312424418
ISBN 13: 9780312424411
By: Rosellen Brown

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About this book

The New York Times Bestseller A New York Times Notable Book Carolyn and Ben Reiser moved to Hyland, New Hampshire with their two children for the comforts of rural life. But when the local police chief comes looking for their seventeen-year-old son Jacob to question him about the brutal murder of his girlfriend, the Reisers' lives begin to unravel. A compelling story that will capture you in the opening scene and hold you through its shocking conclusion, Before and After is a stunning novel that pits parent against parent, brother against sister, family against community, blood loyalty against law-as deep questions of loyalty, honesty, and love are forced to the surface in this psychologically riveting tale. (Library Journal)

Reader's Thoughts

Lori Anaple

I loved the point of view of this novel, but found the internal dialogue too much. I get that we need to have a good representation of the motivations from the characters, but there is such a thing as information overload. In fact, toward the end I was just fed up. Overall, it is a worthy read. The character of the father really ticked me off though. I think he is just a plain flat out jerk. And some of the information that comes out is really quite irrelevant in the scheme of the plot.


I have signed up to take a seminar about childhood from this author in the fall. She does a convincing job, especially with the two teenagers in this book, of getting into the psyches of her characters. The plot of the book required as much: It traces the strain on a family after one of them becomes involved in an accidental murder.


** spoiler alert ** I was so frustrated and irritated with the father that I wished I could reach into the book pages and thrash him. This was a good portrayal of a family in crisis.


I read this book again after reading it perhaps 15 years or more ago. I still found it fascinating. A teenager kills his girlfriend -- we know that right from the beginning. But then what? What happens in his family between him and his parents, between his mom and his dad? And what about his younger sister? Questions of loyalty, responsibility, moral courage, all of these figure prominently in the book. How do we reconcile behavior of our loved ones with society's expectations? What should we do to protect our loved ones: our children, our spouse? Lots to think about in this well-written tale of a family in distress.


Another hugely disappointing Important Book - I felt she had nothing important to say about the psychology of her characters after putting the reader through all that. I skipped the movie, though it starred the GREAT Meryl Streep, because I found the book so frustrating.


I couldn't finish this one. The plot: a parent's nightmare. You son's girlfriend is found dead and all signs point to your son. You cover for him then spend 300+ pages fretting and full of guilt.


I registered a book at!

Brittney ♥ Wulff

It was boring. Sorry but you can guess everything that's gonna happen. Not my voice of book, but the back made it seem like it was going to be a great book. I'm disappointed :(

Jennifer Archer

If I could give this 4 1/2 stars, I would. I was totally hooked into this story and loved it, until the final, wrap-up chapters. The resolution to all the built-up intrigue was told mostly from the perspective of the teen daughter and after the fact. So she was looking back and telling how it all worked out. It sort of felt as if the author was hurrying to finish the book because it was already long. So some of the elements I most wanted to see play out, were revealed in a lackluster way. I also felt that for such a serious situation, her tone and the ending tone of the Mom and Dad was too . . . I don't know...almost flippant, as if their brother/son had been tried for shoplifting a candy bar rather than for murder. And one very important and chilling thread seemed to have been dropped. Still, other than the way the ending was carried out, the entire premise was so intriguing and the writing was so well done and the characterization so on target that I forgive the author for the ending and still recommend this book, especially if you like Jodi Picoult's novel. This one very much reminded me of her work, with somewhat more literary prose.


** spoiler alert ** New Hampshire family dealing with the unimaginable, very analytical, written from 3 characters pov (mother, father and sister) of brother who kills girlfriend

Lisa Greer

Hmmm I could not get through this book. It just didn't grab me and hold my attention. I tried about 40 pages and then gave up. Then again, I'm not a "family drama novel" fan usually.


Lost interest and stopped reading after page 130. This book was promising in the beginning, but it dragged on. Not a fan of her writing. It's way too scattered. Was very disappointed.


** spoiler alert ** This book is every parent's nightmare: your child is accused of a brutal murder, and all signs point to his guilt. Everything that happens is imbued with a sense of dread. The father acts quickly to get rid of damning evidence. The son disappears. The author switches narrators to give a picture of how the event affected each family member. Perversely, I wished that the last segment could have been in the killer's voice. It is more ambiguous that that wasn't the case, but decidedly less dramatic!


not a fan of this book, interesting side of a tragedy to tell similar to Jodi Picoult but wasn't written nearly as well. Didn't care about the characters and the story just seemed to keep going, didn't like the ending either.


I'll admit it. I'm a bit of a book snob. I don't generally pick up books just because they've been on the New York Times Bestseller list; I don't normally go for the books that have that smooth cover art that reminds me of Dan Brown's empire of "history"-thrillers or any given murder mystery. It's not that I don't think those books will be enjoyable, I'm sure they are. It's just that when I look for books to read, I'm looking at writing style. I'm looking for authors that have something new to teach me, whether it be a new perspective, a new way of approaching a plot twist, or just a fresh voice.So when my wonderfully literary friend Kelly sent me this book, I glanced at it and then put in on my shelf for a few months. But I eventually gave it a try. And I'm quite glad I did. Roselle Brown approaches a familiar story-- murder-- from an unfamiliar perspective. She sheds light on the struggles that befall an ordinary family when their son is suddenly implicated in a brutal killing of a young girl. In their small, rural community, the event takes on a life of its own and drives this family into hiding. With their voices, by showing the father, mother, sister and the way this one horrific night changed everything about their lives, their relationships with each other, their views of childhood and community and joy and guilt and fairness. The story is cautious and subtle, it attacks issues of class, race, religion, the stigma of being outsiders, the guilt of living while others die.All told, I was surprised by this book. I was taken in, and I got more out of it than I expected. Not a work of enormous literary merit, but definitely deserving of a read.

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