Congratulations on the publication of THE AFTERPAINS by Anna Julia Stainsby publishing today with Random House Canada!

Gorgeous and compelling, The Afterpains is a heartbreaking portrait of two families trying to cope with grief, isolation, and living far from one’s homeland—told in the voices of four distinct narrators.

Nearly twenty years after the death of her infant daughter, Rosy is still reeling from all that she’s lost. Desperate to repair the connections to the family she does have—her husband, Desmond, and her eighteen-year-old son, Eddie—she’s determined to lay her grief to rest by the twentieth anniversary of her daughter’s death.

At the same time, Isaura dreads what may be coming for her teenage daughter, Mivi. For centuries in her homeland of Honduras, the young women in Isaura’s family have been subjected to a curse of teenage motherhood and the untimely death of the men they loved. But even after moving thousands of miles away from Pespire to Toronto, Isaura fears that her daughter will not be spared.

Soon, Rosy and Isaura, essentially strangers, become connected in a way neither of them could predict. As they try to look to their future and their children’s, they struggle to put the past behind them—all while Eddie and Mivi contend with the weight of their mothers’ pain and guilt.

Tender and compassionate, The Afterpains is a moving debut novel on motherhood, grief, identity, and belonging.


“Brimming with powerful and unrelenting prose, The Afterpains deftly plunges us into the pressure-cooker of motherhood, showing us worlds of grief and isolation, as well as the slivers of hope that bleed through in the darkest of moments. I loved this book.”

—Reema Patel, author of Such Big Dreams

“A potent, glimmering debut. Anna Julia Stainsby’s prose is luscious and wise, and I read The Afterpains with my heart in my throat.” 

—Harriet Alida Lye, author of Let It Destroy You and Natural Killer

“The Afterpains is a novel that is both emotionally precise and ripe with compassion. Page after page, Anna Julia Stainsby urges us to sit with the patient work of building trust after loss and to imagine the healing we can find in one another.”

—Janika Oza, author of A History of Burning

“Like a small pebble thrown into a pond, tiny events can leave reverberating effects. In The Afterpains, Anna Julia Stainsby takes you on a contemplative journey of how grief felt through single but significant events can echo through generations. This debut novel is a delicate and heartbreaking portrait of motherhood and all of the difficult and forced moments and choices some mothers must endure, but also how hope in healing comes with patience, love, compassion and chosen family.”

—Jamie Chai Yun Liew, author of Dandelion

“Is motherhood a curse or a blessing? In this beautifully perceptive novel, Anna Julia Stainsby proves that it can be both. Four narrators, all with unflinching eyes, tell the story of the bonds that join them, and the secrets that keep them apart.”

—Elizabeth Renzetti, author of Shrewed

“The Afterpains is an extraordinary depiction of the transformative nature of motherhood. With skillful emotional accuracy, Stainsby captures the inherent anxiety and immovable devotion of the role, reminding us of what binds us together, and what keeps us moving through life’s most difficult moments. A heartbreakingly beautiful meditation on grief and love, this is a gorgeous and deeply moving book.” 

—Stacey May Fowles, editor of Good Mom on Paper

Anna Julia Stainsby is a Honduran-Canadian writer from Toronto. The Afterpains is her first novel.

Anna Julia is represented by Amanda Orozco and Samantha Haywood.