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After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

After Ever After
y Jordan Sonnenblick

Publishing Information: Scholastic Press: New York, 2009
ISBN: 9780439837064 / 9780439837088 (PB) / 9781611061345 (Audio)
: 260 p.
Ages: 10 & Up

Now that Jeffrey is in remission from cancer, he has to face his next big challenge: navigating 8th grade without the help of his older brother.

Although Jeff and Tad, encouraged by a new friend, Lindsey, make a deal to help one another overcome the afteraffects of their cancer treatments in preparation for eighth0grade graduation, Jeff still craves advice from his older brother Stephen, who is studying drums in Africa.

Book Trailer:

Book Talk:
Jeff has passed the five-year mark. He's free. Cancer-free. When he was four years old, Jeff was diagnosed with leukemia. His hair fell out, he threw up a lot, and he went through different kinds of treatment in order to be cured. Now that Jeff is cancer-free, he can finally live a normal life and hopefully not be considered just "The Boy with Cancer."

8th grade gets off to a great start. He meets Lindsey, a beautiful new transfer student from California. And Jeff is shocked to find out that she actually likes him. Not just as a friend, but as something more! And he has a bunch of classes with his best friend Tad, who's also a cancer survivor.

Of course, not everything is perfect. Jeff spaces out at school because of his cancer treatment and walks with a limp. His big brother Steven, who was always there for him, has dropped out of college and moved to Africa. And Jeff is still terrible at math.

Then the bad news arrives ... Every 8th grader is being forced to take a state-wide standardized test. If Jeff doesn't pass that test, he won't move onto high school with his girlfriend and best friend.

But Tad and Lindsey have a plan to make sure that Jeff doesn't fail the test. This plan is so big, so secretive and so crazy that there is no way it will work. . . will it?

Read After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick so you can find out if they pull off the plan of the century!

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Cancer Survivors
Standardized Testing

Awards & Reviews:
Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2011
Booklist Editor's Choice, 2010
Georgia Children's Book Award Nominee, 2012
Iowa Teen Award Nominee, 2012
Schneider Family Middle School Book Award, 2011
Texas Lone Star Reading List, 2012

Booklist, December 15, 2009 (Starred Review)
Horn Book, October 1, 2010
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2010
Library Media Connection, March 1, 2010
Publishers Weekly, January 4, 2010
Reading Time, August 1, 2010
School Library Journal, January 1, 2010 (Starred Review)
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, February 1, 2010

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Jeffrey believes that he "ruined Steven’s life." Do you think this is true? Why or why not?
  2. Why do you think that Steven left for Africa?
  3. Why do you think Tad is such a grouch?
  4. Do you have to take standardized tests at your school? Do you think that they’re a fair way to determine a student’s academic level? Why or why not?
  5. Have you ever protested something you thought was unfair? Describe what you did.
  6. Has some one close to you experienced a serious illness? How did it affect you?
  7. What questions would you have for some one who is seriously ill?
  8. If you have ever been seriously ill, what things did you wish other people knew?

Related Websites:
Author's Website -
National Cancer Institute’s Childhood Cancers Home Page:
American Childhood Cancer Organization:
SuperSibs (Support for siblings of cancer patients):

The Bald-headed Princess: Cancer, Chemo, and Courage, by Maribeth R. Ditmars, 2010
Both Sides of Now by Ruth Pennebaker, 2000
by Valerie Hobbs, 2005
Dream Journal by Karen Halvorsen Schrek, 2006
8th Grade Superzer
o by Olugbemisola Ruday-Perkovich
The Girl Next Door by Selene Castrovilla, 2010
Going for the Record by Julie A. Swanson, 2004
Hard Hit by Ann Turner, 2006
Holding at Third by Linda Zinnen, 2004
Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer, 2000 (2005 RITBA Nominee)
Izzy Willy-Nilly
by Cynthia Voigt, 1986
Just One Wish
by Janette Rallison, 2009
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork, 2010
Less Than Perfect by Louise Albert, 2003
Loose Threads by Lorie Ann Grover, 2002 (2005 RITBA Nominee)
Red Velvet
by Sandra Byrd, 2005
Rubber Hourse by Ellen Yeomans, 2007
Running for Dave by Lori Jamison, 2005
Side Effects
by Amy Goldman Koss, 2006 (2008 RITBA Nominee)
Staring Down the Dragon by Dorothea N. Buckingham, 2003
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before
by David Yoo, 2008
Thicker Than Water by Carla Joblonski, 2006
A Time for Dancing by Davida Hurwin, 1995
Toning the Sweepby Angela Johnson, 1993
Under the Wolf, Under the Dog by Adam Rapp, 2004
Until Angels Close My Eyes by Lurlene McDanie, 1998

Other Books by the Author:
Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie, 2004
Notes from the Midnight Driver, 2006 (2008 RITBA Nominee)
Zen and the Art of Faking It, 2007
Dodger and Me, 2008
Dodger for President, 2009
Dodger for Sale, 2010

About the Author:
Abridged from Jordan Sonnenblick’s website:

  1. My favorite color is blue.
  2. I have a wife and two kids.
  3. The best pet I ever had was a garter snake I caught when I was eight by a lake in Pennsylvania.  I named the snake Hector.  Then it gave birth to 20 baby snakes, so I changed its name to Hectoria.
  4. My all-time favorite band is the Beatles, although I like a ton of different music.
  5. My hobbies are playing the drums, guitar, and bass; riding my bicycle at least 50 miles a week; hanging out with my wife and kids; and reading.
  6. Speaking of reading, I read a lot of different genres.  As a kid, though, I mostly read fantasy, science fiction, and comic books.  When I was in fourth grade, a fantasy novel called The Dark is Rising inspired me to become a novelist someday.
  7. My favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees. When I was a kid, my best friend and I used to go to Yankees games and throw open ketchup packets off the upper deck. Don't try that at home, kids!

I spent most of my childhood in Staten Island, NY.  My favorite school subject was always English, although I was pretty good at everything except sitting still and being quiet.  I got straight A’s, but got in trouble constantly. This didn’t stop until I was in my first semester at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. The girl of my adolescent dreams was in my freshman English class, and one day when I was making jokes nonstop, she turned to me and hissed, “Why are you so immature?”  At that moment, I instantly became a model citizen.

At Stuyvesant, I met a creative writing teacher who completely changed my life. His name was Frank McCourt, and my senior year was his last year of teaching. He taught me a ton, mostly through one Yoda-like saying that he repeated to me all year. I would write the funniest piece I could, and the class would be cracking up as I read my work aloud. Then, as soon as the noise subsided, Mr. McCourt would say, “Jordan . . . Jordan. Someday you’ll head for the deep water.” Head for the deep water – great advice if you want to be a writer. Or a salmon.

Mr. McCourt gave me a big creative writing award at graduation, and then retired to work on what would eventually be his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Angela’s Ashes. His parting words to me, recorded in my yearbook, were, “Yes, you’ve got the comic talent. But there’s deeper stuff waiting to come out. You’re a born writer.” Admittedly, he probably wrote the “born writer” part in hundreds of yearbooks. But the part about “deeper stuff waiting to come out” became the marching orders for my entire writing career.

After high school, I went to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where I majored in English, but also took a ton of courses in Russian, history, and anthropology.

After college, I joined an organization called Teach for America, which recruits people to teach in high-demand areas like rural Louisiana and the inner city.  When I was ready to get married, my wife and I moved to Pennsylvania to settle down closer to our families.

Then I taught 8th grade English in New Jersey for 11 years. I would have been happy teaching middle school forever, but life took a strange turn. In 2002-03, I had a student named Emily, whose little brother was in treatment for cancer. Emily rarely talked about her brother’s illness, but of course it was very hard on her. One day I asked her mom whether it would be helpful if I found a book for Emily to read about a teen going through a similar situation. Emily’s mom said yes, but I couldn’t find a novel that I thought would be just right for Emily.  So I wrote Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie.

I have written a book per year since then, and as long as I still have someone who will publish the books and a few readers who aren’t my mom, I plan to keep writing.

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair