The more I think about it, the more I realize how much I liked After Hello
. I came away from the book the first time thinking it was about 3.5 stars, but now, I would give it a 4.5 or even a tentative 5. It's grown on me quite a bit.
I'm not a big-city person by any means, but the descriptions of New York make me fall in love with it anyway. Lisa Mangum does a wonderful job of conveying that bustling energy of city life. In fact, the descriptions in general are beautiful. I just can't even. The images in my head were pretty clear, which is more of a surprise than it should be, considering that the purpose of books is to translate words into images in your mind.
Sam and Sara make a cute and healthy
couple. Their relationship doesn't feel forced, even though it happens over such a short time period. They teach each other good life lessons and, there's no other way to put it, they were just cute. I find myself wanting to read more about them.
I have no way of judging Sara's past because I've never experienced anything like it, but she's still easy to relate to. She makes some mistakes and sometimes her thought process is a little short-sighted, but that's exactly what makes her feel so human. I haven't experienced Sam's trauma, either, but I can relate to his anxiety and constant need to move around.
I loved their excursion to the cathedral, especially. Daniel might be my favorite side character, and I liked how it gives us a hint about Sam's past without shoving it in the face of the reader.
My only real problem with After Hello
is an issue that it shares with, in my opinion, the other books of its genre. Realistic fiction proves difficult for me. If the plot is interesting, the realism suffers; if the plot is 100% realistic and relatable, you might as well read a biography instead. I've never read a novel that has found the perfect balance between truth and intrigue.
That said, I wouldn't discourage anyone else from reading After Hello,
because I still adore it. As I've said, the characters are likable. It doesn't involve an abusive relationship that the author wants us to pass off as "romance"--and thank goodness, because we have enough of those already. The messages and lessons are admirable.
I'd be interested to see a film adaptation, since Sarah's photos and Sam's observance give the book strong visuals that would work well on the big screen.