Book Review: After Anna

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So this book, on plot alone, was “unputdownable,” but does that make it a good book?

Not exactly.

I’ve read a number of Ms. Scottoline’s books (except the Rosato and Associates series.  I tried reading one and hated it), and they’re generally interesting enough to keep you reading till the end.  However, these kinds of books (not character-based, but plot-based) are the ones I get at the library, read once, and never read again.

Such was the case with After Anna.

Maggie, the mother of Anna, comes across as a dolt and a doormat.  So her ex-husband uses her and whisks their daughter off to France, but instead of learning French and moving to France so she might at least be able to see her daughter, she is content to let her ex-husband raise her (or rather, dump her off in schools) and have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTACT with her for sixteen years.  No pictures, not anything.  Wouldn’t any mother move Heaven and Earth (or at least move to Europe) to see their child?  She didn’t even put up a fight.

What’s more, Maggie remarried and has been married for several years, yet she never got around to adopting her stepson?  Where is this woman’s priorities?

And when Maggie is talking to her teenage daughter about sex, she tells her about the time she slept with some guy one night (a guy not even her boyfriend–she just wanted him to be), and how he ditched her, saying “It happens,” like it was no big deal, was irresponsible.

The whole time, Maggie was trying to be Anna’s friend and not her mother, and I realize that may have been out of guilt, but still.

Furthermore, wasn’t it obvious to her that this girl was destroying her family?  Hasn’t she ever watched The Hand that Rocks the Cradle?  After all, this girl was raised by someone who sounded like a sociopath, which is why she should have fought for her child.

That said, I’m glad that Maggie ended up redeeming herself, but how can a marriage continue if your spouse thought you murdered her child and didn’t defend you in court, even if she still had her doubts?  Maggie knew her husband a lot longer than she ever knew her daughter, who was basically a stranger.

As for her friend, Kathy, when she and Maggie were together, they sounded like college girls (i.e. like the women in Bad Moms), not grown-ups.  I’ll bet they were doubly obnoxious in high school.

I generally don’t like having to switch gears from chapter to chapter, as it disrupts the momentum; such constantly takes you out of the story and dumps you somewhere else, but Scottoline made it work.

There were numerous other details another reviewer pointed out (things I didn’t catch–someone must have been taking notes!) that made this book lose credibility.  I’d think someone who sells as many books as Ms. Scottoline does would have a team of competent editors (even the best of writers need editors), but if her books sell without editing, then why edit?

Lastly, everything was tied up too neatly at the end–a happily ever after which rang false.

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