After I've Gone
PublisherQuercus
Date Published27 July 2017
 
 
ISBN-101786483033
ISBN-13978-1786483034
Formatpaperback
Pages448
Price£ 7.99

After I've Gone

by Linda Green

Jess Mount lives a fairly ordinary life for a 20-something— until her Facebook page begins to show posted items about her death, 18 months in the future, which only she can see.


Review

Jess Mount and her dad Joe live in Leeds. Neither has quite recovered from the death of Jess’ mum seven years before, and there are early hints that Jess had some kind of breakdown at the time. She has a dead-end job and no real ambition, but she enjoys life with her best friend, Sadie.

One Monday morning, Jess is groped by a stranger at the railway station and an attractive older man, Lee, buys her flowers as a ‘sorry on behalf of the male species.’ Lee is about ten years older, and much more sophisticated than Jess, whose idea of dressing up is to wear Dr Martens. They start a relationship and Jess is propelled into a very different life - an early date involves dinner with the Mayor at an awards ceremony. Her first encounter with Angela, Lee’s mum, makes Jess slightly uneasy - why does she have baby clothes stored under her bed?  From when they meet, Jess and Angela variously narrate the book.

These narrations are interrupted by future posts which continue to appear on Jess’ Facebook page, recounting her funeral and how her baby boy, H, is being cared for. As Jess and Lee’s relationship deepens, Sadie notices how much Jess’ life is changing, and believes that Lee is beginning to control her. But Jess is having the time of her life.

Jess tries everything to record the future Facebook posts, so that others might see them - screen shots, camera, but nothing works. When she tries to alter things in real life that are photographically recorded on the social media site, that doesn’t work either. By now, she loves her future baby and has to decide - should she leave Lee and change the future, and perhaps never meet H, or should she let fate decide. 

This is a contemporary tale, and the use of future posts on Facebook contributes to a novel plot. The characters are well drawn, the reader getting a feel for what their lives are like – Jess is fun-loving, Angela very traditional, and Joe lives for his daughter. Lee at first seems like perfect husband material - but he might be too good to be true.

The pace of the book sustains interest. There are no crime fighters and no procedural details, and it is the way in which the characters respond to situations which keeps the narrative going. In fact, After I’ve Gone felt more like a romance with an interesting backstory than a psychological thriller. I have reservations about the ending and the resolution of a key plot thread, but the book did keep me reading.

Reviewed 31 March 2018 by Kate Balfour