Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Book Review: What Comes After, by Steve Watkins

I really didn’t know what to expect from What Comes After. I haven’t heard much about this book, but I read the description and decided to sign up for a blog tour for this book.  Wow! I really loved it. 

This is a perfect realistic fiction book. My emotions ran the gamut as I read. Iris, the 16-year-old main character, has such a hard life. Nothing seems to ever go right for her. Her father passed away after her mother left when she was five years old. Her best friend’s family is falling apart, and even after promising Iris’s father on his death bed that they would take care of Iris, they send her to her aunt who lives on a farm in a small town in North Carolina.

Her Aunt Sue and her cousin, Book, are what I can’t help but define as evil. They simply use Iris as a hired hand. The only happiness in Iris’s life is the animals on the farm. I’m an animal lover, so maybe that’s why I loved this book so much. Iris milks and cares for the goats, and since her father was a veterinarian, she has some experience with farm animals.  She falls in love with these goats, and it seems they are quite fond of Iris, too. When one of the goats has triplets, Iris’s wants nothing more than to raise these animals as her own. When Aunt Sue decides to slaughter the kids (baby goats), Iris can’t tolerate it. Because of her behavior she is “punished” by being beaten to the edge of her life by Book, while Aunt Sue encourages him. (We learn this on the first page of the book, so this isn’t a spoiler.)

The rest of the story is Iris’s attempt to make something positive out of her life. She is placed in foster care, but refuses to leave her animals uncared for. She sneaks around to take care of the goats, and recruits a friend, LIttleberry, to help. Of course, this is going to blow up in her face eventually, and that’s all I’m going to say about the plot.

I fell in love with Iris.  Watkins has created a spunky, determined little girl. She faced more adversity than anyone can imagine and lands on her feet over and over again because of her tenacity. Although she has many evil people in her life, she also has many positive influences. This isn’t a story about poor orphans and how our foster system is broken. This is a story of hope. And particularly how animals can add so much richness to what could be a very ordinary life. There’s even a happy little romance for Iris, too.

Adults who enjoy realistic stories will enjoy this, but give this to teens who like reading about family problems, and difficult issues. Animal lovers will also enjoy this tale. This book leaves you feeling uplifted and hopeful. We all need that once in a while!

Published by Candlewick, April 12, 2011
Copy obtained from Banned Book Tours
334 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I enjoyed reading your review! This sounds like a good read.


  2. "What Comes After" is fantastic book. Once I started reading, I was hooked until the end. Happy to see others agree!


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