• Interest Level: Grade 5 - Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 5

“This book is a gift to the culture.” —Amy Schumer, writer, actor, and activist

After her brother’s death from a congenital heart defect, twelve-year-old Lucy is not prepared to be the new kid at school—especially in a grade full of survivors of a shooting that happened four years ago. Without the shared past that both unites and divides her classmates, Lucy feels isolated and unable to share her family’s own loss, which is profoundly different from the trauma of her peers.

Lucy clings to her love of math, which provides the absolute answers she craves. But through budding friendships and an after-school mime class, Lucy discovers that while grief can take many shapes and sadness may feel infinite, love is just as powerful.

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Interest Level Grade 5 - Grade 8
Reading Level Grade 5
Category SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2021
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 272
Publication Date 2021-09-07
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV039030, JUV013070, JUV039140
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Lexile 730
Guided Reading Level Z
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Reviewed, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author, Narrator: Emily Barth Isler

Emily Barth Isler is an author of essays and children's books, including the middle grade novel AfterMath and the forthcoming picture book Always Enough Love. Emily writes regularly about sustainability, organic/eco-friendly skincare, and healthy beauty products for magazines and blogs. Her next book, The Color of Sound, features a character who, like Emily, has synesthesia. She has a BA in Film Studies from Wesleyan University and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!


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  • Truman Readers Award Finalist, Nominated, 2023
  • Mathical Book Prize, Winner, 2022
  • Cybils Nominee, Nominated, 2021
  • A Mighty Girl's Books of the Year List, Winner, 2021



“Like Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Ghost Boys, Isler’s novel takes the timely and realistic topic of gun violence and turns it into an engaging story without sensationalizing it.”—Booklist

School Library Journal

“Isler nose-dives into the perhaps taboo topic of school shootings, yet breathes healing, change, and math into the emotional ­catharsis.”—School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“Showing a keen understanding of loss, Isler’s compassionate debut is written with stark honesty, showcasing various responses to tragedy . . .”—Publishers Weekly

Edith Cohn

“Lucy’s story of grief and healing packs an emotional punch that will tug at your heart strings long after you’ve read the last page.” —Edith Cohn, author of Spirit’s Key and Birdie’s Billions

Melissa Walker

“This book is for any kid who has ever felt alone with pain. It offers a light, an understanding, a togetherness that brings hope.” —Melissa Walker, author of Why Can’t I Be You

Alex Richards

AfterMath is both heartbreaking and filled with hope. Gentle, nuanced, and honest, Isler’s extraordinary debut will stay with readers long beyond the final page.”—Alex Richards, author of Accidental

Leslie Margolis

AfterMath is gorgeously written, infinitely heart-wrenching, and tragically timely. Lucy’s voice is powerful and distinct. I loved this novel.” —Leslie Margolis, author of Ghosted, We Are Party People, and the Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries

Yona Zeldis McDonough

“Emily Barth Isler handles so many potentially explosive topics with grace and subtlety but also with enormous assurance and power. This is a brave, important and even essential novel.”—Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of The Bicycle Spy and Courageous

Amy Schumer

“This book is a gift to the culture.” —Amy Schumer

Judith Viorst

“[T]his novel comes pretty close to perfect in its fearless and compassionate exploration of the sorrows, struggles, and hard-won maturing of a spunky twelve-year-old as she deals with the aftermath of loss.”—Judith Viorst, author of The Tenth Good Thing about Barney