Us in the Before and After

Us in the Before and After

By Author / Illustrator

Jenny Valentine



Age range(s)



Simon & Schuster YA




Paperback / softback




A tear-jerking, heart-breakingly beautiful novel from the award-winning Jenny Valentine, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera, Kathleen Glasgow and Laura Nowlin.

There is one side of that moment, and the other
I have dreamed about it ever since

At the start of a long, hot summer best friends Elk and Mab face the fallout of a sudden death, and the lifelong consequences of a single, tragic act.  This is an intensely emotional story that raises questions about love, ghosts, and the unshakeable bonds of friendship.  

Find out more in our Q&A with award-winning author Jenny Valentine



Mab has found Elk. Elk didn't know she needed finding, but now she wouldn't have it any other way. In the 'free-range' Mab, she has gained a new best friend and a whole new perspective on life. Cocooned by love, friendship and family, Elk's existence, even allowing for the pains and problems of growing up, is one of relative cosy contentment. Even school is manageable, thanks to the protective glow of Mab's popular older brother, France.

But death is lurking. First Elk's beloved Gran succumbs to a progressive illness that withers her mentally and physically. Then the almost unthinkable and unimaginable pain of losing Mab. Grief counsellor Stevie provides a safe space for Elk to unburden herself as her worried parents whisper in corners. With the disgruntled but loyal ghost of Mab at her side, will Elk find a way through? All is not as it seems, however and there are further revelations still to come.

Jenny Valentine's Us in the Before and After is a story of pure, joyous friendship, burgeoning first love and unimaginable grief. There are no 'bad' characters here, only decent people dealing with the vicissitudes of life. This book is a melting pot of growing-up - the fear and freedom of everyday life and the wondering about what comes next.

Poetic and melancholy in tone, yet empowering in spirit, this is a book to be cherished. Just as an extra note I should also add that it is a lot shorter than what seems to be the requisite 350+ pages and to my mind, much more impactful for it!

256 pages / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+


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