Cover image for The afterlife
The afterlife
Soto, Gary.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Orlando, Fla. : Harcourt, [2003]

Physical Description:
161 pages ; 22 cm
A senior at East Fresno High School lives on as a ghost after his brutal murder in the restroom of a club where he had gone to dance.
Reading Level:
810 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.2 5.0 71140.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 10 Quiz: 33866 Guided reading level: NR.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



You'd think a knife in the ribs would be the end of things, but for Chuy, that's when his life at last gets interesting. He finally sees that people love him, faces the consequences of his actions, finds in himself compassion and bravery . . . and even stumbles on what may be true love.
A funny, touching, and wholly original story by one of the finest authors writing for young readers today.

Author Notes

Gary Soto was born April 12, 1952, and raised in Fresno California. He graduated from Roosevelt High School and attended Fresno City College, graduating in 1974 with an English degree. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including The Nation, Plouqhshares, The Iowa Review, Ontario Review and Poetry, which has honored him with the Bess Hokin Prize and the Levinson Award and by featuring him in Poets in Person. He is one of the youngest poets to appear in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry.

Soto has received the Discovery-The Nation Prize, the U.S. Award of the International Poetry Forum, The California Library Association's John and Patricia Beatty Award twice, a Recogniton of Merit from the Claremont Graduate School for Baseball in April, the Silver Medal from The Commonwealth Club of California, and the Tomás Rivera Prize, in addition to fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts twice, and the California Arts Council.

For ITVS, he produced the film The Pool Party, which received the 1993 Andrew Carnegie Medal. Soto wrote the libretto for an opera titled Nerd-landia for the The Los Angeles Opera. In 1999 he received the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the Author-Illustrator Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association, and the PEN Center West Book Award for Petty Crimes. He serves as Young People's Ambassador for the California Rural Legal Assistance and the United Farm Workers of America.

Soto is the author of ten poetry collections for adults, with New and Selected Poems a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Award. His recollections Living Up the Street received a Before Columbus Foundation 1985 American Book Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7-10. Combing his hair in the dirty bathroom of a club where a dance is being held, 17-year-old Chuy makes the mistake of telling the rodent-faced guy next to him that he likes his shoes. The young man returns the compliment by stabbing Chuy to death. Where any other story would end, Soto's begins. It follows Chuy for several days after his death, as the teenager recounts what he sees and experiences. His parents grieve, and his mother asks a cousin to kill Chuy's assailant; then he goes to his high school's basketball game and sees the effect his death has had on his friends, realizing their sadness will be fleeting. He saves the life of a homeless man, albeit only temporarily, and improbably, he finds his first girlfriend, Crystal, a specter who died from an overdose. Crystal's character is not as well developed as Chuy's, but their relationship is beautifully evoked, with Chuy grasping every thread of love he can as he slowly disappears. Soto has remade Our Town into Fresno, California, and he not only paints the scenery brilliantly but also captures the pain that follows an early death. In many ways, this is as much a story about a hardscrabble place as it is about a boy who is murdered. Both pulse with life and will stay in memory. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Soto pens a sort of Lovely Bones for the young adult set, filled with hope and elegance," said PW. "The author counterbalances difficult ideas with moments of genuine tenderness as well as a provocative lesson about the importance of savoring every moment." Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Gary Soto's novel (Harcourt, 2003) about how a 17-year-old murder victim experiences and analyzes his world across the first week or so of his death is capably read by Robert Ramirez who skillfully weaves together the interspersed Spanish phrases with the largely English text. Chuy goes to a local dance hoping to hitch up with a favorite girl, but when he's in the men's room to give his hair a final appraisal, he unexpectedly dies at the hands of a stranger, a young man wearing yellow shoes. Chuy narrates as his own bleeding body is discovered, police are summoned, and his family is informed of his demise. He sets off to solve the mystery of his own death and, along the way, befriends a homeless man and a fellow spirit, a girl who committed suicide. Soto injects just the right amount of lightness into this tale to keep it from becoming morbid or depressing. Chuy, a complex character, continues to develop-and even decompose in terms of his physical identity-as the plot moves along. This is an excellent choice for audiobook format because the story will find a broad audience among both listeners who may not be readers and groups, including families with young adolescents, who listen together. Hopefully, in the future, Recorded Books will expand its stable of Latino narrators since listeners need to hear diverse Latino interpretations of young adult characters.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



WHEN YOU'RE an ordinary-looking guy, even feo, you got to suck it up and do your best. You got to shower, smell clean, and brush your teeth until the gums hurt. You got to dress nice and be Seor GQ. You got to have a little something in your wallet. You got to think, I'll wow the chicas with talk so funny that they'll remember me. This was my lover-boy strategy as I stood in the restroom of Club Estrella combing my hair in the mirror over the sink. I was going to meet Rachel at the dance-Rachel, the girl in the back row in English, the one whose gum-snapping chatter made Mrs. Mitchell's brow furrow. I shook water from my comb and plucked the teeth like a harp. I brought the comb back into my hair again. I had to get it right.It was from happiness, I guess, that I turned to the guy next to me. I said I liked his shoes. They were yellow and really strange to a dude like me who clopped about in imitation Nikes but on that night was wearing a pair of black shoes from Payless. I looked back at the mirror and noticed a telephone number carved with a key in the corner-265-3519. I let my mind play: I could call that number. I could say, "Your number's on the mirror, girlie." I pictured someone like Rachel answering and roaring a frosty, "So!" Then she would be cool, come on strong, and ask, "What's your name, tiger? What's your school? What kind of ride you got?"Ride? I had a bicycle with a bent rim and a skateboard from junior high somewhere in the garage. But a ride? It was Payless shoes made of plastic. Shoes I was going to toss in the closet once the night was over.But the private world inside my head disappeared quickly. The guy next to me, the one with the yellow shoes, worked an arm around my throat, snakelike, and with his free hand plunged a knife into my chest. He stuck me just left of my heart, right where I kept an unopened pack of Juicy Fruit gum-I had intended to sweeten my breath later when I got Rachel alone. I groaned, "No way," and touched that package of gum as I turned and staggered. He lunged and stuck me a second time, just above my belly button-blood the color of pomegranate juice spread across my shirt. I thought, This is not me, and leaned against a sink, grimacing because that one hurt. My legs buckled as I turned and straightened when he stuck me in my lower back. I cried, "How come?" I saw myself in the mirror, my breath on the glass, a vapor that would disappear. I breathed on the surface and saw, in the reflection, the guy stepping away and looking at the ground as if he had dropped a quarter. Then, chin out, he stepped toward me, pulled out the shirttail from the back of my pants, and wiped his blade."What did you say to me, cabrn?" he breathed in my ear. He smelled of a hamburger layered with onions.My answer was on the glass. It was a blot of my breath, a blot of nothing. I couldn't form a word because of how much I hurt.The guy in yellow shoes pushed me away. He put his penknife into his shirt pocket like it Excerpted from The Afterlife by Gary Soto All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.