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The Space Between Before and After

The Space Between Before and After


The Space Between Before and After

About the Book

When Thomas' mother disappears, he tells himself she must be safe. Somewhere. And sometimes, the stories we tell take on a life of their own . . .

One morning, ten-year-old Thomas's mother tells him about a dream she had about taking a trip by herself. That seems strange, because lately, his mother has been too depressed to even leave the house. Maybe it's a good sign.

But when Thomas gets home from school, she's gone. The police search everywhere, and although they find her car, they can't find her. Without any clear answers, Thomas will have to find his own.

With the help of his friends-- and a shared story they create to explain what has happened, a fantasy involving a perilous quest only his mother can complete-- Thomas finds a way to work through his anxiety and grief, reach out to his father, and recognize that even if his mother never comes back, he can still hold a place for her in his heart and mind.

This heartbreaking, beautiful novel about loss and grief explores the ways in which young people must face unimaginable tragedies-- and how imagination and compassion can bring some light to the days after.

Product Details

On sale: March 19, 2019
Age: 9-12 years
Grade: Grades 4-7
Page count: 288 Pages
ISBN: 9780823441488

Author Bio

Sue Stauffacher is the author of the Animal Rescue Team series, as well as other well-received middle grade titles including Cassidy's Guide to Everyday Etiquette (and Obfuscation) and Donuthead, which received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal.


"Stauffacher has written an interesting take on how to handle grief from a young boy's perspective."—Booklist

"This novel is incredibly heartwarming and the characters feel very real . . . A great addition to any collection and one that may certainly help children dealing with their own personal losses."—School Library Journal

"Unbearably sad in the best way, this story traces Thomas’s grief journey with redemptive wisdom and quiet elegance. Thomas’ support network of compassionate adults and friends is ideal, with just enough salt to keep the sweetness from being overwhelming. . . . Circulate this with a pack of tissues attached."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"A boy struggles to make sense of his mother's disappearance in this meditative middle-grade novel . . . Short, slowly paced chapters from Thomas' first-person point of view form the main narrative, interspersed with an invented fairy tale he imagines with his kind, elderly Hungarian neighbor, Mrs. Sharp, who as a girl was separated from her father during World War II. . . . A poignant, earnest story of grief and hope for fans of realistic fiction."—Kirkus Reviews

"Although this book is filled with sadness and uncertainty, it concludes on a hopeful note, with Thomas, his father, his aunt, and their friends finding peace in the grieving process. This story is a tactful look at two difficult topics: depression and suicide. It also teaches the reader to treat others with grace and compassion as each of us handles emotional struggle differently." School Library Connection