Feminist Perspective of “After” by Anna Todd

Have you ever seen a trailer for a new movie based on a book and immediately needed to read the book? No? Well, I did. Last Thursday, I was on Instagram and I had a trailer come across my feed. I was absolutely hooked, and I read the book in like three days. This book is called After Anna Todd, and here is my review/ critique:

Image result for after by anna todd movie coverPhoto Credit https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4126476/

           First, a summary, Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who is 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, tattoos, and a lip ring, 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 disappears without a word. 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? (Anna Todd, back cover)

Let’s start with Hardin’s appearance: he has tattoos all over his arms and chest and has piercings on his face; also keep in mind that Hardin is just one of a handful of characters in the book with tattoos and piercings. Without even getting to know Hardin, people immediately judge him for what he looks like. They think he’s not smart, has no goals, and is just overall a bad person. Granted, in this case, he actually is an ass and rude to everyone. However, he is also very smart, has a very good job at a publishing company, he’s just had some shitty things happen to him in his past. This leads to the overarching problem of stereotyping people with tattoos and piercings. I have met many people with loads of tattoos and piercings that are honestly the nicest people ever and aren’t delinquents. I, for one, have three tattoos and 11 piercings, and I am a psychology major at a good university with good grades and a job. So, don’t jump to conclusions when you see someone with lots of tattoos and piercings.

Next, we can look at the relationship Tessa has with her mother. Tessa’s mother has always been hard on her to do well in school, always look a certain way, and to surround herself with the right type of people. So, this includes getting straight A’s, always having her done and looking perfect, and making sure she stays with her “perfect” boyfriend of two years. However, when Tessa gets to school her roommate has flaming red hair and is also covered in tattoos and piercings. Immediately her mom tells her to stay away. But Tessa just rolls with it and even goes out with her roommate to a party. When her mother hears about all the activities Tessa has been doing, including getting close to Hardin and dumping her “perfect” boyfriend, she tells her that she will not help Tessa pay for school and that she shouldn’t come home. Tessa’s mom doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that Tessa is growing up and breaking out of the shell her mother so creatively made. Tessa feels more like herself than she ever has since going to school. But she’s been so sheltered that some things come as a huge shock to her and she doesn’t know how to deal with them. Parents shouldn’t shelter their kids so much they need to be able to experience life with an open mind. In my mind, the reason why there is so much division in the world is that everyone is so closed off from ideas they aren’t familiar with. So, parents shouldn’t shelter their kids, and everyone needs to be more open-minded.

The last thing I want to mention in critique is that Hardin tries to pay for everything with him and Tessa and she’s not comfortable with it at all. She wants to be able to help pay for things or cover their bill for dinner instead of him doing it. I think is definitely relevant in today’s society when in any type of relationship, we shouldn’t expect one person in the relationship to pay for everything. I know I’ve talked about it with my boyfriend before and I completely agree. The cost of dinner and anything else you do with your partner should be shared maybe not all the time, but one person should not always be financially responsible for everything.

Now, these are just a few critiques of this book, and if they deter you from reading this book or watching the movie that’s completely fine. My personal opinion about this book is that I still absolutely love it. It’s a different coming of age story that I think most people can relate to in some way or another. Anna Todd did an amazing job writing this book and I can’t wait to see what the movie turns out like and I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Todd, Anna. After. New York City, Gallery Books, 2014.

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