Life After
By Katie Ganshert
Published by Waterbrook
352 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: It could have been me. Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two lost.

 A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest. 

 Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.  

 In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness

REVIEW: This author pens a gripping and gritty story of an event labeled the Tragedy on the Tracks. An explosion on a train that changed twenty-two people’s lives forever including; Paul Elliott and Autumn Manning.

I was hooked from the start…. “We rarely know when death will come…..Some are warned in sickness - But others - meet death without any warning at all, in an unforeseen moment that wrenches consciousness in two, separating the living from the dead.”

“That’s how it would come on this particular evening for twenty-two individuals.”

The one year anniversary was quickly approaching and Autumn was stuck. Life was passing her by. She still didn’t remember that fateful day. When she woke up from the coma she was shocked to hear what happened and that she was the sole survivor.

She didn’t want to attend the ceremony. She tells a friend, “Trust me…” Those families don’t want me there.” Why would they? To them, she was salt in a wound. A bitter reminder…Why did that woman survive when my husband (wife, dad, mom, son, daughter) didn’t? What’s so special about her?”

Paul was a therapist who lost his wife and was trying his best to raise a 12-year-old girl named Reese and a 4-year-old boy named Tate. He was juggling things as best he could with help from his mom, but things got crazy. The one year anniversary had his daughter going wild. She’s become someone he doesn’t know. It scares him! He’s a therapist he should know how to handle this.

Someone has been writing letters to Autumn. Autumn hasn’t written back. She reads what the person writes. I liked how the author included these letters in the novel. It made things more intimate. In one letter the writer talks about miracles. Then gives the definition which is, “an unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God. Do you believe in miracles?” (the writer asks Autumn)

“At first, I didn’t think it was a miracle. Because it definitely wasn’t wonderful, and if God was involved wouldn’t he save everyone? But then I saw a picture of the train after the explosion…As soon as I saw the picture, I changed my mind. I think it was a miracle. I think only God could have saved you.”

This author masterfully weaves an emotionally charged, haunting tale that is told from two pov’s. One from Autumn Manning the sole survivor. Second, Paul Elliott a single dad, picking up the pieces of his life while caring for his kids and career. It was fascinating to see how Autumn and Paul dealt with the one Anniversary in totally different ways.

This author pulls out all the stops in introducing you to family members lost; describing how twenty-three families dealt with similar circumstances differently. I loved this author’s unique attention to detail that made me feel like I was there. She introduces a variety of rich exceptional characters I could connect with. I loved how the author mixed in a few twists and surprises I didn’t see coming.

How do folks survive after a tragedy like this? No two people react and rebuild the same. No two have the same timetable in which they go from survival mode to giving themselves permission to “live” again. It made for a heartfelt, page-turning, unforgettable read. This would make a great book club pick. I would love to see this on the big screen. This book's a keeper. This author is one to watch!

ABOUT AUTHOR: Katie Ganshert was born and raised in the exciting state of Iowa, where she currently resides with her family. She likes to write things and consume large quantities of coffee and chocolate while she writes all the things. She's won some awards. For the writing, not the consuming. Although the latter would be fun. You can learn more about Katie and these things she writes at her website

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the BloggingforBooks site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
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