On the front cover flap: “After the wreck, Jenna is alone, trying desperately to forget what happened… She’s determined not to let anyone get close to her—she never wants to feel so broken and fragile again. Then Jenna meets Crow. He is a powerfully seductive enigma, and Jenna is instantly drawn to him…” I should have known: After the Wreck is young adult fiction, through and through. I picked it up during a Fully Booked sale (where I took home thirteen books for the price of two). Seeing the summary, I thought twice about getting it, but then I remembered that DM Reyes always mentions the author in class. Plus I thought: what’s seventy pesos?
Turns out it gets you angst, lots of it. Jenna is your typical teenager: unstable, emotional, insecure. A newcomer to Yarrow Lake, she finds difficulty adjusting to life after the wreck. She hates everything and isolates herself from everyone—until she miraculously befriends Trina Holland, the hottest biker chick in school. Suddenly we see Jenna drinking beer, getting high, hanging out with “older guys.” The outcast moves up the popularity ladder, but she only has eyes for Crow. She is attracted to him from the beginning: “The sound of my name in Crow’s mouth…makes me feel weak.” By the end she nearly worships him: “I think Crow has hypnotized me. I think Crow has given me back my life. … I will never love anyone the way I love Crow.” Okay, so it’s for young adults. Jenna is fifteen, who can fault her? But the problem is, I don’t feel the character enough. I see her as a confused, angry teen, hardly anything else. Even her post-accident emotional struggle leaves me unsympathetic. Where’s the guilt, the grief?
What interested me the most in this book is the hint that Jenna would use drugs to cope, as an offshoot of her hospital experience. She did, to some extent, but not enough for it to dominate her life (a better story, in my opinion). I wanted her to seek escape, to stay in the blue. But anyway: plot disappointments aside, I liked the author’s style. Oates has a talent for description (“On the open highway pavement rushed beneath us like a river”) that makes me want to read her other works. Next time I should choose more carefully; this genre’s just not for me.
I began to know then that I’d been wrong. I had not been loved.
It’s what moms do. Can’t help it. They see you’re hurting, they need to touch.
…the more a person talks, the less he can say.