After Math by Denise Grover Swank
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings about After Math. Scarlett has severe social anxiety and panic attacks. She had a crappy childhood & excelled in school, specifically math, to get herself out of the trailer park and into university. She took advantage of free counselling on campus for 14 months, & has learned many techniques to calm herself down. Scarlett has a tutoring job in the math lab, which works well with her social anxiety. One on one, small environment. She has two close friends, one a roommate, but avoids going out. No crowded, unfamiliar places. Everyday situations can cause her to panic. She does equations to calm herself down, guided imagery too.
I was impressed by how accurately the author depicted this kind of disorder. I can relate so much to the main character, as I have social anxiety myself. My brother & I used to joke and call it Walmart-a-phobia. It’s gotten harder to deal with as I’ve gotten older (although middle and high school were so so difficult), and I found out it’s a real thing. Acute Agoraphobia. I feel safe when my environment is controlled and familiar. New places & people make me nervous, even when everyone is friendly. I use some of the same coping mechanisms Scarlett describes. Not equations – I’m only good with the basic math used in my every day life. I would’ve spotted BS, so the author either did her research well or has some type of personal experience.
So why 3 stars? From me, 3 stars means I liked most of it but had some significant dislikes. The writing was good, markedly better than The Substitute by the same author. I was skeptical of the way that Scarlett & Tucker recognized something in one another. It actually developed into a nice and healthy friendship, they helped each other in different ways.
The romance was super needy and unhealthy, and it moved way too fast. I hate the idea that another person can heal you. Granted, Scarlett took some serious steps with therapy, but I didn’t understand why she no longer went. She’s not fixed. There’s mention of the medications that the MC wished she could afford to take. That was a blunder, because there’s assistance available that her therapist would’ve alerted her to. She qualified for free campus counselling, and she’s clearly not able to function normally, even with the calming techniques.
Tucker was an emotional mess. Drug addicted mother. Abusive foster homes. Self destructive behavior, like binge drinking and sleeping with all the girls. He even has a temper problem that results in emotional, if not physical abuse.
Seriously, why are there so many romances about emotionally damaged people healing each other through love? My issues sometimes affect my family. I’m thankful that my husband, while not perfect, doesn’t suffer from anxiety or problems from a violent past. My kids know what I deal with and see me being proactive about dealing with my panic attacks. Having a calm, confident spouse helps enormously. We’ve been at it for almost 20 years, and I can tell you that regular marriage has enough hard spots. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but the odds aren’t ever in your favor if you have 2 people with major unresolved issues try to live happily ever after.
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