PUBLICATION DATE: June 16, 2015
GENRE: realistic/contemporary fiction
SETTING: upscale seaside French restaurant and surrounding small town, present day
GIVE IT TO: HS
SUMMARY: Teen restaurant workers Isa, Finn, Peter, and Xavi work, have secrets, play an illicit game of dares, and fall in love at the posh seaside restaurant where they all work.
WHAT I LIKED: Before I begin, I have to mention that I think my ARC may have been missing a couple of chapters at the end. The story just STOPPED, and at least two major story threads (HIGHLIGHT TO SEE SPOILER--> What happened with Finn and Isa? Was the Great Aunt's restaurant successful? Was Waterside shut down? Did everyone go to work there?) were left unresolved. If my ARC was missing an epilogue, then fine. It's not the first time I've had e-ARC issues. But if that really was it, then that really should be fixed. There absolutely needs to be an Epilogue or a TWO MONTHS LATER chapter or something else to draw the story to a close.
Okay, now on to what I liked. The pacing is excellent. I read almost the entire thing in one sitting.
I was a waitress for five years in high school and college, so I LOVED the restaurant setting in After Hours. For people reading the book without a restaurant background, it may seem like the illegal activities and smarmy behavior depicted in After Hours are unrealistic. I can tell you, I worked in several restaurants in my five years of waitress-hood. The activities in the story are really not all that exaggerated. Every restaurant I worked in had at least one sleazy manager. There were drugs. There were late parties after work almost every night. There was lots of underage drinking, and yes, that sometimes happened at work. There were manager-staff relationships, some involving high school students or married managers. Customers hit on staff and vice-versa, and while I never heard of this situation personally, it's certainly possible that some people I worked with were getting paid for "extra services" on the side.
So, as unbelievable as it may sound, I could see a dare game like Tips being a hit in most of the restaurants I worked in. If you've been there, you know I'm speaking the truth. Some restaurants were better about this than others, but they all had this stuff to some degree. Plenty of restaurant employees work there and stay clean, but the stories in this book are an absolute reality. I love my restaurant background and wouldn't trade it for anything, but I could tell some shocking stories about my work in the food-service industry. I wouldn't be at all surprised if author Claire Kennedy worked as a waitress in high school or college and had seen this stuff first-hand.
I liked the morally-imperfect main characters. They all make bad decisions and are manipulated by a sleazeball adult, but they are still young and ultimately make the right decisions anyway.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Well, the characters are doing some pretty morally-bankrupt things. There are a few "icky" moments that may make some readers uncomfortable. Again, they turn it around by the end, but the fact that they get so easily swayed will ruffle some feathers.
The character voices. They all sounded the same. There were several times I was in the middle of a chapter and forgot who was speaking.
The ending. There should be one, and I am hoping my ARC is just missing a chapter. I'm writing this review a full six months before publication, so I'm hoping the publisher and author will address that before the pub date in June.
THE BOTTOM LINE: A fast-paced story of restaurant shenanigans. It may seem unbelievable, but trust me, it's not.
STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I probably won't get this one, despite the fact that I enjoyed it. My enjoyment comes from my own experiences as a restaurant employee, not because it's such a great story for teens.
READALIKES: Hope Was Here(Bauer); Top Ten Clues You're Clueless (Czukas)
- Overall: 4/5
- Creativity: 4/5
- Characters: 4/5
- Engrossing: 4/5
- Writing: 4/5
- Appeal to teens: 3/5
- Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5
- Language: medium-high--contains multiple F-bombs, sh**, damn, ass, bitch
- Sexuality: medium-high--kissing, intercourse, sexual photography, male prostitution, teen pregnancy--none of this is described in detail
- Violence: mild--some punches thrown; a fork stabbing
- Drugs/Alcohol: high--teens drink alcohol at work, at home, and at social gatherings; brief mention of parents doing cocaine; one character keeps unlit cigarette behind her ear
- Other: sexual relationship between step-siblings
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