After Normal is one teen's journey through grief after the death of her younger brother. Unique in the field of death and dying literature, it offers helpful insights and understanding for teens facing a similar loss or for those who might wish to understand and help teens facing a similar loss. No easy answers. No pious platitudes. Just a truthful insider's view of the journey from darkness to light, black and white to color, despair to hope again. This short excerpt captures the quality and honesty of the entire text: "Breathe. Please just breathe," I begged myself as I knelt in the backyard, doubled over and gasping for air, my eyes squeezed shut. I wanted the ground to open and swallow me whole. I wanted to float towards the sun and never stop. I wanted to go to sleep and never wake. I wanted to wake and have this be a horrible, horrible nightmare. I wanted to start running and never, ever stop. I could just keep running. First, though, I needed to catch my breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. That's all. Just breathe. I opened my eyes but quickly shut them again. The grass was too green. Inhale. Exhale.
Each inhale filled my lungs, my heart, my very soul with sorrow. Each exhale left only emptiness. I could smell the grass just inches from my face. After long, northern Michigan winters, spring was always so welcomed. The blooming trees, blossoming flowers and the greening of the grass assured us that we had survived another winter and, as a reward, we could enjoy the splendid sights of spring. But now the same plants that I once thought of as friends seemed to be mocking me with the vibrant colors of their rebirth. They surrounded me and dared me to notice how alive they were. I willed myself to block out their taunts and ignore their liveliness. I carefully opened my eyes again. The world was now black and white, with a little gray thrown in for interest.