She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Afterwards, and reported the following:
On this page an unwelcome intruder into a school’s prize-giving finishes threatening the teachers and parents. He’s a teacher, Mr Hyman, who’s been recently fired. When two men go to restrain him, a child – seven year old Adam – stands up and tells the adults to leave his old teacher alone. The teacher leaves the church where the prize-giving is being held and Adam sits down. End of p69. Out of context it doesn’t seem much at all, but I remember where I was in the novel when I wrote it and how pivotal this scene was in so many ways. (I saw it as a scene with the stone floor of the church echoing, the pews filled with identically dressed children.)Learn about the book and author at Rosamund Lupton's website.
This page is actually a flashback, during a police investigation of arson. A school has been set ablaze, and two people terribly injured. Mr Hyman is one of the suspects. Should the threats he finishes on p69 have been taken seriously? “You won’t fucking get away with it.” If they had been taken seriously, could this disaster have been averted? The boy who stands up for him, Adam, has been mute following the fire. It was his mother and sister who were terribly injured. His muteness in the pages up until p 69 makes his few lines in the silent church all the more striking. “Leave him alone!.” It’s also an important moment in the portrayal of Adam’s character – depicting his loyalty and his courage. Adam is a boy who’s scared of being late to school, of not doing his homework; a boy who seems so easily intimidated. But here he is, literally, standing up to everyone. Characters in the novel are more than they first seem, and this is Adam’s moment to show it.