Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
Grace is at Sport’s Day at her son Adam’s school. Her teenaged daughter Jenny is acting as the school nurse for the day on the third floor of the building. A fire breaks out in the school. Grace sees that Adam is safe then runs into the burning building to rescue her daughter. She finds Jenny collapsed on the stairwell and reaches out to her just as the ceiling collapses.
I kept hearing this book compared to The Lovely Bones and I couldn’t figure out why. Now I know. And without giving anything away, I think I can tell you why. Grace and Jenny meet again at the hospital. Grace is in a coma and possibly brain dead. Jenny is badly burned and her organs are failing. Together they try to piece together what caused the fire. I know what you’re thinking. How? It’s because Grace and Jenny are able to travel ghostlike from their bodies. They can not affect the world but they can listen and watch and try to figure out the motive and perpetrator of the fire.
I was afraid that having Grace in her unusual state of being as a narrator wouldn’t work, but amazingly it did. It was like having a semi-omniscient narrator with an agenda. Grace could literally be the fly on the wall and eavesdrop on any conversation anywhere; an interesting way to write a mystery and reveal the clues multiple characters are discovering. And a really good mystery – I kept changing my mind as to who did it and why and the answers to those questions…wow.