Tara Hudson’s ‘Hereafter’ perfect for a lazy summer afternoon

“HEREAFTER,” by Tara Hudson, HarperTeen, June 7, 2011, $17.99 (young adult)

Paranormal stories abound these days, giving readers lots of choices — both good and bad. If readers are patient, though, and willing to sift through, their hard work will most likely pay off, as is the case in “Hereafter” by Tara Hudson.

Amelia is sure she’s dead, but that’s about the only thing she’s sure about. She’s been drifting through existence in the dark waters of a river somewhere in Oklahoma. Amelia can’t remember her life or her death. She floats through a numb existence not really caring.

That all changes when she wakes from a nightmare and realizes it’s not her, but someone else who is drowning. And it’s terrifying. As a ghost, there’s nothing Amelia can do for him, but she has to try. A whisper in his ear, a quick glance and he inexplicably survives.

The two, Amelia and Joshua, have a connection. No one else can see Amelia and Joshua feels drawn to her. Together they set out to uncover details of her life — her full name, where she lived and how she died.

Before Joshua, Amelia’s existence was lonely and singular. Now it’s full. But there’s another spirit that has other plans for Amelia, and he’ll stop at nothing to get his way.

“Hereafter” isn’t the best paranormal thriller out there, but it’s a strong read nonetheless. This character-driven drama is compelling and Tara Hudson’s players, particularly Amelia, are well developed.

Hudson’s plotting is in keeping with her homey prose. She never strays too far from her core and that adds an authenticity to the more fantastical elements woven throughout.

“Hereafter” is a quick and engrossing read, perfect for a lazy summer afternoon.

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