Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Comes After Review

What Comes After
Steve Watkins

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date:
April 12, 2011
YA, Contemporary
Hardcover, 334 pages
4/5 (Avg 4/5)
A gripping portrait of a teen’s struggles through grief and abuse - and the miraculous power of animals to heal us.

After her veterinarian dad dies, sixteen-year-old Iris Wight must leave her beloved Maine to live on a North Carolina farm with her hardbitten aunt and a cousin she barely knows. Iris, a vegetarian and animal lover, immediately clashes with Aunt Sue, who mistreats the livestock, spends Iris’s small inheritance, and thinks nothing of striking Iris for the smallest offense. Things come to a head when Iris sets two young goats free to save them from slaughter, and an enraged Aunt Sue orders her brutish son, Book, to beat Iris senseless - a horrific act that lands Book and his mother in jail. Sent to live with an offbeat foster family and their "dooking" ferrets, Iris must find a way to take care of the animals back at the farm, even if it means confronting Aunt Sue. Powerful and deeply moving, this compelling novel affirms the redemptive power of animals and the resilience of the human spirit.

After reading this novel, the first thought through my mind was how unusual it was to have a book about a female character that focused more on her growth as a character rather than a romance. Did I mind it? Absolutely not! It was a refreshing change of scenery. Scenery that included one incredibly written main character... and animals. Yes, animals! Do I have your attention yet, fellow animal lovers?

Iris is one of those characters that you cannot help but love. Her best character is that she is human. She's relatable in the way that she's kind and very caring, yet she still has flaws - she takes falls and she struggles. Yet every time she falls, she has the resilience to get back up, dust herself off and move on. I love her for that. Her foster parents added some nice quirk to the novel while her aunt Sue and cousin Book... well, what they added I wouldn't exactly call 'quirk'. I sometimes felt a little for Book, but there was never a good excuse for what he and his aunt put Iris (and the animals) through.

This book is heavy - and I'm not talking about it's physical weight. If you're looking for a light-hearted book to read and feel good afterward, I would look the other way. This book is emotionally devastating and tugs at your heartstrings like no other. Don't get me wrong, it's a GREAT book! Just be prepared to cry... a lot.


Savannah said...

Ahh, I don't want to cry. But I do enjoy books that give you emotion! Nice review!

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