Book - 2020 | First edition
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Antonia Vega has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves, but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words. -- adapted from jacket
Publisher: Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2020
Edition: First edition
Branch Call Number: FICTION ALV
Characteristics: 256 pages ; 19 cm
ISBN: 9781643750255


From Library Staff

Dominican-American Antonia is grieving the recent death of her husband when other challenges come her way. Falling back on her years of teaching literature, she references the wisdom of poets as she tries to figure out how to be a responsible, compassionate person in the world and care for hersel... Read More »

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Mar 05, 2021

Well, this was a train wreck. It went off the rails early on and tumbled downhill from there. I kept reading, looking for …. What? A rescue? The bottom? Enlightenment? I would have been satisfied with some sort of understanding. But by the time I got to the trailer load of orphaned llamas, I just couldn’t take any more. You may laugh. I wasn’t.
Here we have four sisters, at least two of whom are, at best, goofballs, people who cannot resist wading into the middle of other people’s problems (while having quite enough problems of their own to keep them occupied). I suppose I was hoping for some vaguely spiritual or heartwarming or at least satisfying discovery of the power of love, compassion, coming to terms with our fractured reality: In short, something close to what the publisher’s blurb offered.
Julia Alvarez writes good prose, her structure is sound, her language well chosen. One would wish for much better subject matter and more credible characters.

Dec 14, 2020

Briefly this is a book about a retired teacher/writer living in a small town in Vermont. She lost her husband one year prior and is still learning to deal with the loss. She suddenly has several significant issues to deal with. Her sister who is bipolar disappears. Her neighbor is a famer who employs illegal workers and through a long series of events she ends up with a pregnant illegal teenager in her garage. She is one of 4 sisters from the Dominican Republic who share love but have many problems dealing with each other. I think the main theme of the book is that our writer learns to have more compassion for others, something her husband demonstrated but that she lacked. The book cover ask the question, how do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another and ourselves? I don't know the answer to that but I think that as Christians we need to face the world and all of the problems with faith and a desire to learn and make things better for those around us. This book was on the 2021 Tournament of Books long list. Also by the author: IN THE TIME OF BUTTERFLIES.

ArapahoeJulia Oct 16, 2020

Afterlife is a beautiful mix of thought-provoking and relatable. While there were parts that I had to reread several times because of Alvarez's more lyrical writing style, I found this to be a relatively quick and enjoyable read.

Sep 21, 2020

Retired English professor and recently widowed Antonia navigates twin conundrums in the year following Sam’s death—the intervention with two sisters into a fourth’s chaotic life and the plea from neighboring undocumented farmworker Mario for help as his girlfriend Elena comes to Vermont from Mexico.

Loved this book! Perfect for September’s Hispanic Heritage Month reading. Alvarez strikes all the right notes to answer some of life’s central questions about doing the right thing, being true to one’s self while cleverly integrating a lifetime of literary references both familiar and new to me. Highly recommend.

Apr 26, 2020

If we ever needed a book to give us hope, now is the time. We’re stuck at home worried about a virus and here to entertain us and teach us is Antonia, a Dominican Republic immigrant living in Vermont. She lost her husband, the town doctor a year ago. She is a retired English professor trying to keep her own life sane. Living next door is a grumpy Vermont dairyman who has two illegal Mexicans working for him, and of course, no gringo can distinguish between Latin cultures. Complicating her life is the pregnant girlfriend of one of the Mexican immigrants and her sisters who are worried about the missing older sister. If you have ever struggled and feel that just figuring out your own personal problems is all you can handle, you’ll understand Antonia. The ending chapter is perfect in showing how even though we are broken, we can put our lives back together incorporating the pain we have experienced.

Apr 02, 2020

Alvarez's charming novel portrays four sisters who could be the Garcia girls confronting maturity with funny yet genuine Latina exuberance and passion. Antonia is completely relatable to those of us of a certain age and experience.

Mar 31, 2020

Please order the audible version


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Apr 02, 2020

Antonia is a retired college professor and novelist who is finding it hard to face life after her husband’s sudden death. In the tranquil Vermont college town where she lives, Antonia’s grieving process is upended when she finds a pregnant, undocumented teenager hiding in her garage, a situation that invites comparison to her own more benign immigration experience. On top of that, older sister Izzy goes missing and her sisters impose on Antonia to help with the search.


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