After We Fell by Anna Todd… where do I even begin? I knew going into it that the third book in the After series would be a rough ride. I just didn’t know how rough. Spoilers ahead.
Unlike other love story endings, Anna Todd’s track record with how each book ends never leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy. In fact, at the end of After, Tessa leaves Hardin in the parking lot of Blind Bob’s, opting to be in Zed’s company instead. Hardin then spends the majority of After We Collided trying to make amends for the horrible choices that drove Tessa away. The second book ends with Hardin and Tessa walking out of a tattoo parlor together. And into a homeless man… who turns out to be Tessa’s father. Oy.
Book review: After We Fell by Anna Todd
AWF opens with a flashback from Tessa’s childhood. As a little girl, she used to escape to the greenhouse in her backyard when her parents would fight. That greenhouse and Noah’s presence were the only two constants that kept her pushing on. And as we learn, it was her father’s abandonment that made her mother turn into the cynical creature she is today. The added backstory also helped me to not have such a strong dislike for Noah (he was too boring and squeaky clean in the other books).
So what happens next? Ignoring Hardin’s warnings, Tessa decides to invite her father to stay the night for dinner. After all, she hasn’t seen him in over nine years. Hardin states it perfectly, “Dammit, Tessa, this isn’t going to end well.”
And it doesn’t. Because where would the story be in that?
In Tessa’s defense, she sees similarities between her father and Hardin’s own dad, Chancellor Scott. If Mr. Scott can turn his life around, why can’t Mr. Young? As we see later, it is because Tessa’s father is into hard drugs and involved with some bad, bad people that he can’t turn it around. He’s in too deep. And when Tessa’s mother shows up and has a spat with her estranged husband, it seems she, too, doubts his ability to get it together.
After We Fell summary (spoilers!)
The conflict with Tessa’s father weaves a dark thread throughout the third book, creating tensions within her other relationships—Hardin, Landon, her mother. So with that in mind, let’s get back to Tessa and Hardin.
AWF tells a darker story
In real life, when someone you love and care about does something unspeakable against you, there are tears and words exchanged—yes—but mostly, trust is shattered. That’s the dynamic between Hardin and Tessa in the third book, and it continuously pushes them together while pulling them apart throughout. Tessa’s trust (and frankly, her spirit), has been broken by Hardin. It’s no wonder that although she loves him, dating others and moving away to Seattle sounds intriguing to her.
After We Fell takes us on a rollercoaster of emotions for both Tessa and Hardin. One especially dark, dark scene comes to mind. We discover Steph was never Tessa’s friend all along. She is nasty, arguably evil, and completely irredeemable.
I won’t go into the details but be warned that the almost-sexual-assault scene in AWF comes out of nowhere, and it is very uncomfortable and infuriating. It is after that scene I realize just how isolated and alone Tessa truly is outside of her relationship with Hardin. And that sets the stage for what happens in the fourth book.
The third book in Anna Todd’s After series is packed with drama on all fronts. There were several moments in reading it that I wondered if anything would turn out good at all. AWF is nearly 850 pages of tension and conflict, and you feel each and every letter of it.
Looking for more? Here’s my review of After Ever Happy. I also just started a YouTube channel to discuss all-things books and stories.
What do you think? Should I do video reviews of the After series?