After the ink dries

Cassie Gustafson

Book - 2021

New to an affluent high school, artistic Erica really wants to fit in, and is thrilled to find herself kissing the lacrosse goalie Thomas after one of his matches. She knows he's different from the rest of the team -- only on the team because his dad is controlling-- so she goes with him to an afterparty, only to wake up the next morning with the names of every team member written on her skin in intimate places. Struggling with humiliation, the strong desire to deny Thomas' involvemen...t, and her need to know exactly what happened, Erica copes by creating a graphic novel with a superhero ego, while Thomas is forced to confront his actions and what they mean about his true character.

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Location Call Number   Status
Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Gustafso Cassie Checked In
Young adult fiction
New York : Simon & Schuster BFYR 2021
First edition
Physical Description
406 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Main Author
Cassie Gustafson (author)
Other Authors
Emma Vieceli (illustrator)
Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The night after a party, new student Erica Walker wakes up in the host's bedroom—her bra is missing, and her body is markered with boys' names and slut-shaming comments. The guys involved play lacrosse with her boyfriend, Thomas, and the party's host is her best friend Caylee's boyfriend. Ashamed and confused, Erica, who's white (like all the primary characters), heads home, initially hoping that Thomas wasn't involved and that Caylee will offer support—hopes that are soon dashed. The events of the following week are narrated by both Erica, who's new to the area and doesn't feel like she fits in, and Thomas, an aspiring musician struggling to please his domineering father. Gustafson's debut doesn't pull punches; the book is open about Erica's suicidal ideation, the male chauvinism Thomas is steeped in, and the bullying both experience. Vieceli's graphic novel panels represent the superhero comic that Erica draws, and pages featuring her heroine appear as she tries to channel bravery to speak the truth and hold her abusers accountable. The quickly paced ending feels abrupt following the characters' lengthy, detailed remembrances of the incident, but this all-too-believable book will open eyes and start conversations about sexual assault, toxic masculinity, and victim shaming. Age 14–up. Author's agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (July) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—In this debut YA novel, two-voice prose merges with graphic elements in telling the story of white 16-year-old Erica Walker, who wakes up half-clothed after a drunken house party. Coming to, she finds derogatory words and the names of the boys' lacrosse team written in Sharpie across her body. Erica doesn't remember what happened the night before, but she can't believe that her new boyfriend, Thomas, would be involved. Thomas wakes up from the party, worried he is late for his audition to music school. He is determined not to ruin his chances, while also not entirely clear about everything that occurred the night before. As Erica and Thomas make their way through the next few days, the truth is revealed. Erica learns that there is also a video circulating at school of her being assaulted while passed out. The narrative unfolds between Erica's and Thomas's points of view, with images woven throughout of Erica's alter ego superhero Erica Strange, the comic she draws. This page-turner tackles issues of assault, relationships, and suicide. The main characters, especially Erica, are dynamic but the multitude of secondary characters sometimes muddles the narrative and takes away from the main focus. Still, the pacing and story will in draw teens. VERDICT The beautiful graphics and the way this novel tackles assault head-on make it a good addition to a library shelf.—Rebekah Buchanan, Western Illinois Univ., Macomb, IL Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Told in alternating viewpoints, new couple Erica and Thomas face the devastating aftermath of a drunken party.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

This electrifying graphic novel, told in alternating viewpoints, follows Erica as she seeks to uncover what happened at a drunken house party after waking up with names written all over her body, including that of the boy she likes. 30,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Courtney Summers meets Deb Caletti in this “all too believable” (Publishers Weekly) page-turning suspense story about a teen girl—reeling in the wake of betrayed trust—who learns what it is to face hard truths about yourself and others, and how to find strength when you need it most.

Sixteen-year-old Erica Walker is a webcomic artist who wants to fit in at her affluent new high school. Seventeen-year-old Thomas VanBrackel is an aspiring songwriter and reluctant lacrosse goalie who wants out from under his father’s thumb. After their electric first kiss at Saturday’s lacrosse match, Erica and Thomas both want to see where their new relationship could take them.

The next morning, however, following a drunken house party, Erica wakes up half-clothed, and discovers words and names drawn in Sharpie in intimate places on her body—names belonging to Thomas’s lacrosse friends, including the boyfriend of Erica’s best friend. Devastated, Erica convinces herself Thomas wasn’t involved in this horrific so-called prank…until she discovers Thomas’s name on her skin, too.

Told in alternating viewpoints, Erica seeks to uncover what happened while battling to keep evidence of her humiliation from leaking out, as Thomas grapples with his actions and who he thought he was. Woven throughout, illustrated graphic novel interstitials depict Erica’s alter ego superhero, Erica Strange, whose courage just might help Erica come through to the other side.