AFTER ZERO, by Christina Collins, Sourcebooks/Sourcebooks jabberwocky


Elise carries a notebook full of tallies, each page marking a day spent at her new public school, each stroke of her pencil marking a word spoken. A word that can’t be taken back. Five tally marks isn’t so bad. Two is pretty good. But zero? Zero is perfect. Zero means no wrong answers called out in class, no secrets accidentally spilled, no conversations to agonize over at night when sleep is far away.

But now months have passed, and Elise isn’t sure she could speak even if she wanted to―not to keep her only friend, Mel, from drifting further away―or to ask if anyone else has seen her English teacher’s stuffed raven come to life. Then, the discovery of a shocking family secret helps Elise realize that her silence might just be the key to unlocking everything she’s ever hoped for…

Out September 2018


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

This is a middle-grade read for ages 8+.

As a child and even now as an adult, I’ve struggled with anxiety and crippling panic attacks.  The overwhelming mechanics of a very hyper active mind kept me often paralyzed with so many thoughts at once that I would quickly succumb to attacks and find myself struggling with many outcomes of these attacks such as depression and night terrors.  It’s was tough as a child dealing with this, and because I didn’t know what was happening to me, I kept a lot of it to myself.

As an adult, and with how society deals with issues like anxiety and panic attacks, I’ve educated myself and opened up about my issues receiving wonderful understanding and treatment. I can truly relate to this child, Elise in Collins book. Thinking yourself strange or even weird because you’re not like anyone else (so you think), causes you to act just as Elise does– shutting down and succumbing to mutism to avoid unwelcomed attention being brought to bear on your differences. Like I said, thoughts in an overactive mind can be very cruel and judgmental. You imagine the worse and even become paranoid.

Lots deal with these feelings differently, but many do as Elise did–shut down and try to become invisible.  I love the fact that the author geared this condition toward a younger audience.  I was ashamed of what was happening to me so kept quiet and suffered internally.  Hopefully, this author will bring these issues to light among the middle-graders with the results being kids telling parents should they too see similarities in themselves to Elise’s condition.

To keep the topic light enough for this age group, the author added an element of magic, a family secret and an outcome that the reader will find comforting but yet, surprising.

Tender and truthful is a great way to described this book.

I gave it:


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