Ember and Ness are best friends, completely inseparable. Ember can’t imagine what life would be without Ness. Until Ness dies, in a most sudden and unexpected way. Ember feels completely empty. How can this even be real?
Then Ember finds a way into the afterworld-a place where the recently dead reside. She knows there must be a way to bring Ness back, so she decides to find it. Because that’s what friends do: rescue each other. But the afterworld holds its own dangers. How far will Ember go to make things the way they were again?
Paired with enchanting illustrations from Emily Gravett, A. F. Harrold’s powerfully woven tale explores the lengths we go to for the people we love. -Goodreads
This book was generally hard for me because I recently experienced a death in my family that is taking time to find peace with. I began this book knowing what it was about but not fully understanding that it will come with some emotional investment.
You feel for Ember. You feel for Ember because she is anyone that ever wanted someone to come back. It isn’t that Ember doesn’t understand death, because she does. When she finds that there is a way to bring Ness back, she won’t accept death and that makes the difference with how the book is presented.
There are two parts within this novel that chocked me up. The beginning and towards the end. In the beginning you are in the present looking back. At no point within the novel do you feel that you are looking back in the past. You know you are but the author did a fantastic job making you feel as if everything happening is in the present that you forget what happened in the beginning until the end.
The end . . . I can’t say much because it would give away so much. But what I can say is Ember has one of the best character developments I have seen in quiet awhile. I am extremely glad that she keeps her innocence. She doesn’t let what has happened change her in a way where she is no longer the same person. She changes yes but she isn’t 13 going on 30. I appreciated that on so many levels.
The pace of the novel was fantastic. You are invested within the novel because of the emotional aspect of it and that is more than enough to keep you going. At no point did I feel the book was moving too slow or there wasn’t enough going on. The illustrations matched the feel of the each chapter and if you are a crier you will.
Ember deals with a lot within this novel and it isn’t just the death of Ness that does it. The afterward shows her something that she didn’t know she wanted and how she handles it, makes you wonder where she gets the strength from.
Is this a hard read for a child as in too sad? Maybe; it depends on the child. But as an adult I can see this as a book to help children letting go.