Searing New Novel Examines First Love and Betrayal

NEW YORK, May 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — AFTER THE INK DRIES, a gripping young adult novel by Cassie Gustafson, jumps right in: 16-year-old Erica drank too much last night at a lacrosse party. She had been trying to calm her nerves after sharing an electric first kiss with Thomas, her new boyfriend. She passed out.

Now, clawing her way back to consciousness, hung over, she realizes as her eyes start to focus┬áthat she’s lying in an unfamiliar room, and she is only half-clothed. Her body is covered with obscene comments and drawings, alongside five names penned on her skin in Sharpie. To her dawning horror, she recognizes the names as those of five male classmates, including Thomas. The scribbling is everywhere, even in her most intimate areas.

As this novel vividly demonstrates, actions have consequences. Told at whirlwind speed, Erica and Thomas grapple with the devastating aftermath from this horrific, so-called “prank.” For Erica, her world is decimated by a sense of betrayal, humiliation, and hopelessness, compounded by her classmates’ whisperings and victim-shaming. For Thomas, his fervent shame and guilt are at war with his misogynistic upbringing and all he stands to lose. Both sides are explored in depth, with revealing nuance and remarkable verisimilitude. And once the whole school finds out about the incident, the fallout is catastrophic.

This book is a poignant must-read for teenagers to help them better understand their responsibilities as emerging adults. It’s also for the parents or educators of teenagers who will profit from the insights into the world these young adults are having to navigate today.

Initial critical reaction to AFTER THE INK DRIES has been glowing. Bookseller Makayla Richard, of Tattered Cover Book Store wrote: “I loved it. I finished this book faster than I’ve read any other in the past few years, I loved it that much.” Further reviews have called it “page-turning”, “compelling”, “heart-breaking.”

AFTER THE INK DRIES, by Cassie Gustafson, is available now for pre-order nationwide, wherever books are sold. It is slated for a July 20, 2021 release. Illustrated. 399 pp. Simon & Schuster BFYR. $19.99.

SOURCE Cassie Gustafson