There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there’s everything AFTER… Life will never be the same. #Hessa
Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way.
But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, and tattoos, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to.
But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even. For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room. Something about his dark mood grabs her, and when they kiss it ignites within her a passion she’s never known before.
He’ll call her beautiful, then insist he isn’t the one for her and disappear again and again. Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.
Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her?
Unless…could this be love?
Rating: 4/5 Stars
I like to describe this book as “Fifty Shades of Grey” for college students. (I know the main character in that is also in college, and I’ve never actually read it…but still.) I first read “After” years ago when it was still on Wattpad. I’m not sure how much changed between those versions, aside from the characters names, but there’s nothing that is crazy or different, at least from what I remember. My friends and I just wanted to brush up on the book in anticipation for the movie premiering in April.
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I think I liked their relationship a little more when I was younger, but I still recognized that the relationship wasn’t very healthy. I understood this when I was younger (I read it either in late middle school or early high school, I don’t remember), but reading it again as a 19-year-old (pretty much the same age as Tessa) it reads a bit different. Hardin is a totally toxic character. I’m totally here for redemption arcs and complex, fragile, characters that have to grapple with the toxic masculinity that they’ve been exposed to in their childhood, but that doesn’t really give them a free pass to be jerks forever. (I know there are more books, but I’m just talking in relation to this one!) Tessa recognizes this, and she also recognizes that they’re moving really fast, but does it anyway. It’s never a good idea to move in with someone so quickly like that, especially if they’re toxic and have self-destructing tendencies.
(Every time Tessa would say how adult she is because she’s 18, I was like “No! You’re not! We’re all still children!” Being in your late teens and early twenties is a mixture of “I’m such a grown up” and “I wish I was a child again.”)
I liked Tessa, even though she’s a bit naive what it comes to Hardin, but that is just a reflection of how she grew up. He’s really controlling most of the time, and if she’s been controlled by her mother her whole life, she probably feels more comfortable being “controlled” by him and it doesn’t seem as weird because she’s been dealing with that her whole life.
There are a few plot holes, but I guess they were relatively easy to overlook. I wish Tessa would’ve made some more friends apart from Hardin’s friends, aside from Landon. It’s also noted that she and her boyfriend Noah were well liked in high school, yet she never mentions being friends or even friendly with anyone else in high school.
I didn’t really like how some of the girls are referred to as “slutty” (if not in those terms, then in the way they’re talked about–it’s subjective, so don’t jump down my throat! Just making an observation!) while the guys, like Hardin, are described as being “experienced.”
There’s strong sexual content, so I wouldn’t recommend reading this until you’re towards the end of high school/in college. I can’t really attest to whether the college part is accurate, since I go to a smaller college and not a university. (But trust me, you won’t be able to get ahead on your classes eVeR but good luck trying.)
Overall, I’m excited for the movie, and the whole plot twist at the end makes me want to read the rest of the series. I’m sure I will eventually. I’m really pumped to see the movie though! Y’all know I love comparing books to their film adaptations. 🙂
Have you read “After”? What did you think?