Review: TAYLOR BEFORE AND AFTER by Jennie Englund

TAYLOR BEFORE AND AFTER by Jennie Englund explores the world of adolescence complicated by school drama, family challenges, and a tragic accident that turns Taylor’s 8th grade world upside down. With nods to mean girl bullying, depression, drug addiction, class issues, friendship and crushes, TAYLOR BEFORE AND AFTER is relatable and timely. Taylor loves fashion and shopping and she worships her older brother. When the most popular girl in school suddenly starts paying attention to her, Taylor succumbs to the temptation of popularity much like her brother succumbs to the call of partying, alcohol and drugs. The alternating chapters, which group into Fall (before) and Winter (after), can feel confusing at first, but soon it helps the reader feel as pulled in many directions as Taylor feels. This may feel too stop-and-start for some readers, but many Middle Grade and Young Adult readers will recognize the style as a reflection of their own everyday lives. 

One of the novel’s strengths is that Taylor shares self-doubt and her decision making process, sometimes based on tenuous morals, realistically and with a teenager’s self-awareness. Taylor’s voice throughout remains consistent even as she grapples with fear for her mother, anger and despair over her brother, and frustration with her father. Readers will recognize Taylor’s loneliness, her courage in reaching out to new friends, and all the tangle of emotions that characterize Middle Grade and early Young Adult fiction.

The very adult themes of drug abuse, tragic accidents, and life-changing choices feel true-to-life and fully developed. Getting through hard times is one major theme, and it is reflected in more than one character. Refreshingly, there is no typical happy ending from TAYLOR BEFORE AND AFTER, just a deep breath and a resolve to keep going with hope. 

About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to car culture, dealing with leaving a career I loved, and spouting off along the way. Do The Most Good.
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6 Responses to Review: TAYLOR BEFORE AND AFTER by Jennie Englund

  1. Lauren Becker says:

    Ooh this one sounds really good. I love gritty MG reads. And this cover is simple, but I love it.


  2. This sounds perfect for the age group. And I love when real topics are addressed for younger readers – so important. Great review!

  3. Jennie Englund says:

    Thank you very much for the straight-up, multi-faceted review! I LOVE how you get Taylor, and the formatting that reflects her cluelessness-turned-desperation…. A new genre of books is emerging–YYA!–and TAYLOR sits right in it! … THANK YOU for giving thoughtful, honest reviews!!! You’re doing great work! Kindly, Jennie

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