“Aftercare Instructions:” Navigating Friendship, Abortion and Theater

By Khrysgiana Pineda, Staff Writer

Seventeen-year old Genesis is thrown into a whirlwind of choices and memories from her past when her boyfriend, Peter, abandons her at a Planned Parenthood in New York City. There is no telling what is next for Genesis as she faces heartache, both new and old, on a winding journey of love and destiny. Upcoming YA novel, “Aftercare Instructions” by Bonnie Pipkin, is a timeless coming of age tale that invites the twists and turns of real life into the realm of theater, where Genesis finds life again among scripted pages.

Character development is vocalized through alternating chapters, in which Pipkin dives into Genesis’ past in flashbacks, formatted like a script. Pipkin describes Genesis’ childhood, from her father’s drug abuse and eventual death, to her falling in and out of love with Peter.

As Genesis stumbles into New York City, empty of her former pregnancy and abandoned by her escort, Peter, she manages to make her way to her cousin’s NYU dorm. The following days are filled with heartbreak, near-tragedies, budding romance, and adventure as Genesis recovers from the abortion.

Chapters of the novel are divided, labeled by acts and aftercare instructions. Acts move backward, into Genesis’ past, while instruction chapters propel the storyline forward. This artistic choice seems to draw a parallel of the story’s events themselves, as Genesis is thrust forward from the abortion and is reunited with her past through theater.

Set in New Jersey, where Genesis lives, and New York City, the novel displays a realistic view of both places, with charming details of street vendors and subway rides. Pipkin describes Washington Square Park, the quad for NYU students, as well as the waterfront in Jersey. There is a strong sense of friendship and community dynamics in Genesis’ high school, the NYU area, and in the circle of off-broadway actors who Genesis comes in contact with during the second half of the novel.

Aftercare Instructions is also a story of friendship and family. During recovery time, Genesis is faced with hard realities and spiraling emotions, revisiting old friendships and strengthening new ones. Much of the story focuses on Rose, Genesis’ spunky best friend, and Genesis’ mother, who continues to mourn the loss of her husband.

Following in her father’s footsteps, Genesis discovers what he was so passionate about before he died. The stage fills her with new life, hope, and love when she auditions for an off-broadway play. Unable to act again after her father’s passing, this moment is vital in the pivot of her life and rebirth.

An inspiring journey of love, friendship, and passion, “Aftercare Instructions” transcends expectations.

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