AFTER, by Francine Prose
Interest Level: Upper Grades
Tom Bishop is a sophomore at Central High School the day everyone’s cell phones start ringing at the same time. Apparently there has been a mass shooting (similar to that which took place in Columbine) several miles away in Pleasant Valley, and all of the parents are calling to make sure their kids are OK. From that moment on, life at Central High changes indefinitely. The first major change is the installation of a new “grief and crisis” counselor. This man, Dr. Willner, strips the principal of his power and institutes many changes, one after the other, slowly taking away the majority of the students’ freedoms, under the guise of making the school a safe and orderly place. Parents, after reading daily school emails from Dr. Willner, begin to act strangely, agreeing with all of Dr. Willner’s suggestions. Tom and his friends begin to think that something similar to the plot of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS is taking place. Students who stand up to Dr. Willner are sent away to wilderness camps, or other “rehabilitation centers,” and never heard from again. Of course, you'll have to read the book for yourself to find out what happens!