Before - Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole life has been one big non-event. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-butboring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into a new life, and steals his heart. After - Nothing is ever the same.
I don't even know how to start this review. First I'll state that I hate all the summaries out there for this book. They just don't capture the true feeling of the book. Second I'll state: I LOVED it. I really did. It had me laughing at some points and crying at others. The characters were so real I felt like I knew them personally - like they were my friends. Miles is made very likable even as he struggles to figure out how to manage the new world he finds himself in. He messes up and makes some bad choices but that keeps him real. Sure there were times I disagreed with what he did, but that was me (an adult) shaking my head at the choices of a teenager. I understood why he made them, I just wished he would've done it differently.
The organization of the novel adds to the brilliance of the story. The first part of the books is labeled "before", and the second part is labeled "after", so you know something is going to happen, but you don't know what. I had no clue what the event was, and I was completely blindsided by it. For me that was ok because it made me feel what the characters felt. That connection made my reaction to the story even stronger. I struggled with them to understand why. As they came to understand it, so did I. By the end I felt I had learned and grown with them.
Final thought: A strong story that pushes the reader to face the reality of friendship, love and growing up.
Best stick with you image: The first scene in "after".
Best for ages: 16+ This one is definately for older teens due to language, mature scenes and themes.