Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on Aftermath.
Casey Fielder, general manager of O’Ruddy’s Restaurant, excels at his job. He strictly adheres to the rules in the company handbook, and he expects no less from his employees. As a result of eight years of impeccable management, O’Ruddy’s has become a popular dining spot.
One January, Casey realizes that business has declined. Knowing that blame for a decrease in profits will inevitably fall on the general manager, Casey launches a personal investigation into the reasons for the slowdown. Casey then writes a letter to the franchise owners, the Howards, and sends a copy to company headquarters blaming an unsuccessful marketing campaign and poor weather conditions for the slowdown.
Casey is careful not to mention one other possible reason for the decrease in customers. He doesn’t remind them of a parking lot fight that broke out in December involving about a dozen angry teenagers. It’s an incident he’d rather forget, and he’s not sure the fight really had an impact on business. It was publicized in the local paper; Casey followed protocol and filed a police report. The Howards were extremely displeased and made it clear to Casey that in the future, were similar incidents to occur, police involvement was to be avoided. Another fight would cause the restaurant to lose its insurance. Casey would lose his job.
The unthinkable happens on this January Friday night. A second fight breaks out in O’Ruddy’s parking lot involving even more teenagers than the last time. Casey, one waitress named Jenny, and two customers seated together eating dinner are the only people in the restaurant. Casey must make a decision as the violence outside escalates. The aftermath of the decision he makes is beyond anything Casey might have imagined, and lives are altered forever.
Brian Shawver’s riveting novel examines ethical and moral dilemmas born of the hierarchy imposed by class. It is a study of terrible consequences that occur when the rich kids of St. Brendan’s School tussle with the poorer students from the local high school. The book is also a brutal reminder of the fact that lives can be altered inexorably in a matter of seconds. After reading this, you may begin to examine your own actions in minute detail, not without a little fear.
The characters in this tale remain etched in the mind long after the book is closed: Colin Chase, the battered boy who has done his share of battering others; Colin’s mother, Lea, whose unimaginable journey evokes so much sympathy; and Colin’s Dad, Geoffrey, who has kept secrets to protect his wife and son.
Jenny, waitress and lover, harbors secrets as well. Brady Benson spills secrets for alcohol. Dashner, the creepy drug dealer, is just plain creepy. All are unforgettable.
While you read this book, your heart will race, tears will stream down your face, you will worry, fret, become exasperated and weary. You will feel pride, shame, shock, disgust, concern, love, sadness, perhaps even hate. Don’t miss Aftermath; it’s worth the emotional rollercoaster ride.