before, after, and SOMEBODY in between

Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1st edition (October 1, 2011)

Martha Kowalski is a quick-witted girl stuck in a bad situation. She's just moved to the slums of Cleveland with an alcoholic mother and Momma's new gun-loving, redneck boyfriend. Yes, there are pockets of goodness in her new life--a friend at school, a boy who lives upstairs, and cello lessons--but every day is filled with abuse from the unrelenting life of the ghetto. One day, Martha finds herself out on the street, and that's when her luck changes. A wealthy family invites her to live with them and within days she is enrolled in private school, is outfitted in the perfect new wardrobe, and is falling for the cutest guy she's ever seen! But life isn't so simple, and soon Martha realizes that she's not the only one with a past.

REVIEWS

"An hour into her first day of tenth grade, Martha knows she's in trouble: the school bully has threatened her life and her home life is in shambles. She wants to play cello – but even music is dangerous, until a wealthy lawyer provides a possible key to moving away from her dangerous life. A poignant story of a girl's struggle to be some (body and to) escape dangers evolves in a complex plot highly recommended for older teens." MIDWEST BOOK REVIEWS

"There isn't much that doesn’t happen to Martha Kowalski, the 14-year-old protagonist in Garsee's down and dirty debut... Garsee's unwillingness to tie things up neatly lends the story realism and poignancy." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"Fans of Mary Pearson's A Room on Lorelei Street (2005) will be a good target for Garsee's look at another troubled teen trying to escape her horrible circumstances... Teens will inevitably find Martha a compelling character and will root for her as she adapts to new challenges and a new name to fit her new environment. Readers are left with hope that Martha will always find her way." BOOKLIST

"This gritty story hs great appeal." KIRKUS REVIEWS

"...packed with tension...this book is Martha's journey home--not to the places she lived, but her journey home to herself. (Garsee) knows about what she is writing and she leaves out nothing. Her work is painfully realistic, and she does not write "nice" because there are too many youth who struggle through such an existence..." VOYA

"Garsee...tells this disturbing-yet-poignant tale of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles with a clear voice and authenticity... Edgy, with realistically frank language, this dark young adult novel addresses drug and alcohol abuse, sex, violence, poverty, and urban life without sensationalism or rationalization and is sure to provoke discussion and increased awareness of what many teens face daily." CHILDRENS LITERATURE

“...an amazing action- and danger-filled plot-driven contemporary urban tale in which we find that alcoholic parents -- whether rich or poor -- can thoroughly poison their kids' lives, that it is not always easy to just say no, and that in the face of really bad stuff going down, some teens will make it to a better day while others are swallowed by the cracks.” RICHIE’S PICKS

“BEFORE, AFTER, AND SOMEBODY IN BETWEEN is a gritty and realistic tale of a girl trying to escape her parent's poor choices and make a life for herself. Told unflinchingly in the first person, Garsee doesn't hesitate from portraying teen violence, sex, and drug and alcohol use as the traps that they can be, but she does so with gentle humor and a compassionate eye.” TEENSREADTOO

“Jeannine Garsee's debut novel addresses abuse in various forms - alcohol, pills, verbal, physical - as well as recovery and redemption. Though no one is ever fully healed nor redeemed, that makes it all the more realistic.” BILDUNGSROMAN

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©2021 by Jeannine Garsee.