Houston in the 1950’s provides the setting for Anton D. Sclafani’s novel The After Party.  Two little girls named Joan meet in their neighborhood of Houston’s oil-rich residents.  They become best friends,  spending all their time together until they are high school seniors. Little Cece Buchanan had to give up her name to Joan Fortier because there can’t be two girls in class with the same name.  Cece’s willingness to surrender her name foreshadows the relationship that the two girls will have.  Even though Joan became a bit of a wild child, Cece always remains ready to defend her into young adulthood.  One of the catty criticisms floating around their exclusive social group is why Joan doesn’t have a husband and at least one child by the time she is twenty-five.  This seemed like almost the perfect portrayal of the expectations for wealthy young women in a city like Houston at this time.  Although the two young women try to remain close, life is beginning to divide them.  The novel explores family relationships and friendships.  It can be surprising which can be stronger and more enduring.  The reveal at the end of the book explains why so many confusing actions were taken.

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