Two new books: After (Efaw) and No Choirboy (Kucklin)

Two amazing books just intersected in my reading: Susan Kucklin's No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row, and Amy Efaw's After. No Choirboy is non-fiction. Kucklin interviewed four young, incarcerated men who committed murder before they reached the age of 18, and one murder victim's family. She does an incredible job of interviewing them and putting together first person narratives straight out of what they say. She also includes photos she took. Kucklin is a fearless writer. She tackles incredibly difficult subjects and always does an amazing job. She has a great post up about her latest project on I.N.K. on the murder of Iqbal Masih.

After is the fictional account of 15 year old Devon who is in total denial that she is pregnant, gives birth on the bathroom floor, and stuffs her baby in a dumpster. The entire book takes place in just a few days as she is jailed and forced to confront her own actions. Amazingly well-researched, breathtakingly intense, and heartbreaking.

After is getting lots of well-deserved blog buzz right now, and Viking has set up a website for the book. I finished the book a week ago and can't get Devon out of my mind. I keep wondering how her life is going.... A testimony to the power of well-written fiction.

There are incredible themes in these two books around denial, taking responsibility, consequences and redemption. These books could really, really appeal to teens who aren't usually the least bit interested in reading.