Since After is a fan-fiction piece about the popular boy band One Direction, it’s safe to assume that the protagonist, Tessa, represents author Anna Todd as she explores her fantasy of dating lead singer Harry Styles, represented in the story as Hardin. At the novel’s outset, Tessa is an organizer. She loves to plan every day hour-by-hour and has spent several years of hard work and careful planning in preparation for college. However, Tessa’s in-control personality is shaken when she’s confronted with the one aspect of college she can’t control—her roommate. As she spends time with Steph and meets her friends, Tessa is influenced by their lifestyle. Even though their behavior shocks her at first with the partying, drinking, and casual sex they engage in each weekend, Tessa gradually adopts their habits as her own.
As Tessa spends time around Hardin, she discards her usual responsible, in-control choices because of her strong physical attraction to him. Several times, she ignores the voice of reason inside her head to satisfy feelings of lust and jealousy. While in some ways her new lifestyle and relationship with Hardin is freeing, it also sends her on an emotional roller coaster, bringing constant drama and uncertainty into her life.
By Anna Todd