Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Ann Redisch Stampler is the author of Afterparty and Where it Began, both for teens, as well as several picture books, including The Rooster Prince of Breslov. Her books have been an Aesop Accolade winner, Sydney Taylor Honor and Notable Books, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner, and Bank Street Best Books of the Year.

Stampler applied the Page 69 Test to Afterparty and reported the following:
The set-up:

In looking over his 16 year-old daughter’s new best friend at the Family Game Night from hell, Emma’s psychoanalyst father has decided to batten down the hatches and hope that Siobhan will be carried away in the storm of his horrified daughter’s reaction to his efforts to pry the girls apart.

The subdued opening volley of Emma’s reaction falls on page 69:

You know how in the morning, everything is supposed to look all shiny and better? It doesn’t.

My dad makes waffles with blueberry smiley faces, like he did when I was seven. I’m pretty sure this is because (1) he wishes I were seven and (2) he wants me in the best possible mood so he can tell me that after our (trashed) Family Game Night, courtesy of my (trashed) best friend, he wants me to stay home more. I am not supposed to mistake this for being grounded; it is intended more as extreme family bonding. Or as me bonding with the inside of our house. Or as me bonding with anybody other than Siobhan.

And I understand his concern, I do. He’s not being mean, he’s being worried. I get that. But people change, right? She was a wrecked twelve-year-old, but it’s not like she’s in that same wrecked place. Not everyone who screws up is doomed to be, well, doomed forever, right?
On the surface, this passage presents a snippet of sixteen-year-old Emma making light of her father’s concerns about a best friend whose dark side cannot be hidden even for long enough to play one round of Scrabble while smashed on a vodka-laced Big Gulp.

In the broader context of the book, below the surface, this passage shows Emma explaining away the very aspects of Siobhan that should be the most alarming, as these alarming characteristics reflect aspects of Emma’s mother. The passage shows Emma -- who is deeply aware of her mother’s failings and terrified that she is destined to find herself passed out on the same grim path – trying to reassure herself that despite her own adventures in bad behavior, she is not “doomed forever.” But in fighting to believe this, Emma allows herself to know yet not know that Siobhan’s Game Night description of herself as a wrecked twelve year old has a great deal of bearing on who Siobhan is now.
Learn more about the book and author at Ann Redisch Stampler's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue