Series: Angel Island #2
Published by Self-Published on April 8, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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For most people, starting senior year at a new high school would be a nightmare, but for Ella O’Dell it’s the new beginning she desperately needs. Two months after her mother’s death, she’s ready to leave behind the rebellious, unhappy person she became when she found out her mom was dying.
When Ella meets River Maracle and Sadie Fitzgerald, she begins to learn it’s okay to be herself, even if that means being different. River and Sadie aren’t ashamed of their misfit status—River grew up on a reservation, and his mother is the school counselor; Sadie stands out with her funky homemade clothes, and is a master at ignoring the whispered rumors that have plagued her since the beginning of high school.
Ella finds a kindred spirit in Sadie, and something more in River. After almost a year of pretending to be someone she’s not, she finally embraces life and allows herself to have fun without constant guilt. But despite her budding happiness, something is off with her new life. She doesn’t want to dwell on the past, but Angel Island is a small place, and she soon realizes her demons are harder to outrun than she thought…
After the Storm is a standalone companion novel to Waiting for the Storm
Disclosure:I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
As I said in my After the Storm cover reveal post, I love how it continued the beach theme from Waiting for the Storm, but that it was also bright and much more cheerful looking. The multi-coloured umbrella is like the rainbow you see after the storm (… I see what you did there now, Marie!) and it adds great visual appeal.
I really loved Waiting for the Storm. Almost a year later, I find myself thinking about Charlotte, especially when a storm is a brewing! When Marie told me that Charlotte’s sister, Ella, would be getting her own book I was really excited!
After the Storm picks up shortly where Waiting for the Storm left off, returning us to Angel Island, the O’Dell family and Ezra. When we last saw Ella, she was just at the beginning of her transformation, as she shed her mean girl persona and began the journey to dealing with the grief she felt from her mother’s recent death and the guilt for not being by her side during her last months. In After the Storm, she is starting high school on the island, and along the way, she forms a misfit friendship trio with the eccentric but fashionable Sadie, and her best friend, and River, a Mohawk boy from Tyendinaga. While it continues the story from the first book, it can also be read as a standalone novel!
I really enjoyed seeing the real Ella in After the Storm! She’s not a mean spirited, wild party girl who doesn’t care for her family. She’s actually quite reserved, except when it comes to sticking up for her family or friends, and prefers a quiet night in with friends. Ella’s rebuilding her relationship with her sister and Dad, and learning to deal with her grief in a healthier manner. She doesn’t know if she is always making the right decision, but she tries her best. She’s empathetic and a good friend. I could actually see myself hanging out with her in high school, and I could relate a bit to her close knit misfit group of friends. Speaking of friends, I almost think that Sadie and River steal the show a bit! I absolutely fell in love with them, Sadie in particular. There provide the friendship and support that Ella needs, but they are fully developed, complex characters that stand on their own. We also got to Charlotte and Ezra’s relationship progress, and some plot lines continued from Waiting for the Storm, which was nice. I liked seeing their relationship through Ella’s POV, and I really liked Ezra’s friendship with Ella!
Angel Island is a small town, and so there are hardships for anyone who is considered different, especially by their peers. The story also has a LGBT storyline that I think was done very well. I won’t go further into it because I don’t want to give too much away, but I just want to make note of it because the visibility of these stories and characters are important. Similarly, River is a teenager of colour, and is connected to his Mohawk culture, and grew up on the Tyendinaga reserve. He talks about stereotypes about indigenous people in Canada (Turtle Island/Kanata), and has experienced ostracization from his peers due to his heritage and race. For the most part, River’s storyline was also well done, although there were two instances that I was a bit weary about: River and his mother are described as stoic (a common stereotypical description of indigenous peoples) and a costume decision towards the end of the book (I’m still conflicted about whether it was problematic, or a chance to rebel against the media’s depiction….). River was a complex character, though, and didn’t fall into being a stereotype himself. I also liked how these two storylines and characters highlight the prejudice that still exists in Canada, much as it does in the US, as sometimes it isn’t talked about as much because we are seen as a diverse, multicultural, polite society. It’s nice to see it not swept under the rug in Canadian YA books!
In the end, After the Storm didn’t disappoint! I thoroughly enjoyed continuing on with these characters, and meeting new ones along the way. Marie Landry never fails to write engaging and emotional contemporary YA books! I highly recommend this book, whether you’ve read Waiting for the Storm or not, as you’ll be swept away by the characters before you know it.
JOIN THE CONVO!
Have you read Waiting for the Storm or After the Storm? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, are these books on your TBR list? Have you ever given a character a second chance? What is your favourite literary misfit friendship?