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Publisher's Summary

The first adult novel in almost 15 years by the internationally best-selling author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents.

Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, has had the rug pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves - lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack - but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words.

Afterlife is a compact, nimble, and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including - maybe especially - members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost? 

©2020 Julia Alvarez (P)2020 Recorded Books

Featured Article: 10 of the Best Hispanic Authors to Listen to Right Now


This list is in no way exhaustive, but it is a great place to discover—or rediscover—exceptional Hispanic writers, many with extensive back catalogs. It’s gratifying to hear these works in the language in which they were written, with gorgeous renditions en español. And while you’ll have plenty of their work to listen to, we also suggest you learn about the lives of each author. Their stories include struggles as immigrants, expatriates, and refugees.

Editor's Pick

A welcome listen in times of turmoil
"The arrival of Julia Alvarez’s first work of fiction in 15 years couldn’t have happened at a better time. We are facing a global pandemic that encourages distancing ourselves from others, and we are living through one of the most divisive political climates in more than a generation. In Alvarez’s Afterlife, Antonia is a retired college professor of Dominican descent who is struggling with the sudden death of her husband, Sam. But in h quiet Vermont college town, her life is turned upside down when she finds Estela, a pregnant, undocumented teenager at her door. As Antonia weighs the needs of others and her own, memories of Sam’s goodness help guide her, along with guidance from authors such as Tolstoy and Rilke—and this is where this story shines. I fell in instant love with this story. Alvarez is a brilliant writer who draws from her own Dominican culture to offer a combined message of deep reflection on existence with timely questions about life, loss, and finding the good within yourself in order to help others. Afterlife is a refreshing and welcome listen that reminds us that there is no better time than NOW for this timely message."—Edwin D., Audible Editor

What listeners say about Afterlife

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    3 out of 5 stars
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That's all?

With Butterflies being a life-changing book, I expected more out of this story. It lacked depth and believability for me.

18 people found this helpful

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Highly recommended

A beautiful, moving story read with such care and tenderness . Loved the relationships in the sisterhood and will take away the thoughts on the afterlife.

15 people found this helpful

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Loved this book.

Julia Alvarez never disappoints. This story of the widow Antonia navigating family issues with two of her sisters regarding the disappearance of the eldest sister, Izzy, beings home family issues of dealing with mental health issues. She also is involved with an undocumented pregnant teenager with nowhere to turn. This is a thoughtful book with a caring narrator. Alma Cuervo did an excellent job as narrator. For the Taylor Jenkins Reid fans, she was the voice of Evelyn Hugo.

12 people found this helpful

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Good enough

A well-written story, but not overwhelmingly good. Descriptions of the central character's widowhood are moving. But the resolution of the story is pretty trite.

12 people found this helpful

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Hooked!

I loved it from beginning to end. it captured a small glimpse of real life.

11 people found this helpful

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still thinking about main character

short novella. well written. meaningful story leave you pondering about life
situations, and issues surrounding us

8 people found this helpful

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Another grear book!

Glad to have read another great book by Julia Alvarez. Mental health is serious so happy to see a story where it is addressed

7 people found this helpful

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Life After?

Really enjoyed this book and the reader was perfect for the subject. Topical, facing directly the very real issues of migration, mental illness and loss. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who cares about quality of life, about personal involvement and about both the limits of and the possibilities for one individual to make a difference.

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Pick a Lane, Ms. Alvarez

While the writing is fairly decent, this was an extremely frustrating read. What story was the author trying to tell? Was it about the grief experienced after the sudden death of a spouse? the danger faced by undocumented immigrants? her older sister's mental illness? the plight of a pregnant teenager? the climate crisis? complicated family relationships? Ms. Alvarez touches on all of these, and then goes absolutely nowhere with any of them.

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Lovely story for multiple generations and peoples

This story weaves so many issues together in a heartwarming way. Death, loss, family dynamics, and immigration issues all converge.

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  • Colin J. Herd
  • 03-03-21

Gorgeous writing

I adored this poetic, rich, dazzling novel about seeing “what love can do” in the face of loss, grief and governmental brutality.