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What Comes After Hardcover – April 12, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Steve Watkins is the author of Down Sand Mountain. He says What Comes After was inspired by reading an article about a girl placed in foster care after an assault. "I recognized her - and others like her - through my work as an investigator and advocate in the juvenile justice system. I knew her story deserved to be told." A short-story writer and winner of a Pushcart Prize, Steve Watkins lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1 edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763642509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763642501
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,315,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amber @ Down The Rabbit Hole on October 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Iris Wight's life is like a train wreck-- horrible, terribly depressing and so gripping the reader truly can't look away. Iris's strength is what makes this novel amazing and emotional. There were too many times when I wished I could pluck her out of the story and make her feel better. The ending and her growth is stasifying and realistic.

The law in Iris's life is that anything bad that can happen will happen. For most of the novel, Iris is rejoicing in the very small things in life because that's all she has. Literally, she doesn't have much besides the clothes off her back and a half empty stomach. Her plight is heartbreaking. One of my biggest worries was a male writer taking on the emotional state of a teenage girl but Mr. Watkins does this effortlessly and with a brutual honesty to match some of the best female writers. He knows what he's doing.

Both Sue and Book Allen are well thought out for being the "bad guys" and play their parts with equally parts glee and sorrow. They felt real and weren't all bad which is something that takes a lot of rounding out. The thing is, you could see both points of view and though they took it too far, they stayed true to their characters. I did feel that Iris's friend Beatrice fell flat compared to the other well-rounded characters. Her dialog seemed a bit forced and she fell into a non-realistic stereotype too often for my tastes.

Mr. Watkins writing is beautiful and very honest. Iris's voice comes easily and she's in such a dire situation that it's hard not to love her. I did find that at some points the story dragged a little and by the middle I wanted more action and to see the story progress. I guess I was hoping to get to the really bad parts quicker so that I could see the good parts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By zenwaymom on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wow. Wow. Wow. Read What Comes After one rainy Saturday afternoon. Could not put it down. What an inspiring story! One that speaks to anyone who has had to overcome adversity and learn the importance of balancing suffering with joy, pain with humor, love and empathy - as the main character Iris intuitively seems to understand. I was so moved. I laughed and cried, and laughed and cheered. Iris is such an intrepid character, and her love for animals so beautiful to witness. All of the background details of the farm are fascinating. The whole story flowed so perfectly. Now, I can't wait for what comes after, What Comes After!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Steve has out done himself with the story of Iris, a 16 year old orphan who is sent to live with her maternal Aunt Sue from hell. How many foster kids are out there trying to survive and being knocked down at every turn by lawyers who OK outrageous purchases by Aunt Sues with Iris's inheritence in the name of providing a "quality of life". How many are bullied because of their accent, the clothes they wear, the food they eat? Steve tells the tale of Iris, who evenually, if reluctantly, learns to trust a few who in turn help her to escape her hell. How many kids never find that trusted friend and never escape? Steve tells the tale in a way I didn't want to put the book down!
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Format: Hardcover
WHAT COMES AFTER is a powerful and heartwrenching YA contemporary read. Watkins slips effortlessly into Iris' voice and gives us a gorgeously told story about both the extreme cruelty and the endurance of human nature.

Iris Wight's idyllic life in Maine ends when her veterinarian father dies and she is sent to live with the aunt and cousin she's hardly met, on their farm in North Carolina. Iris immediately does not get along with Aunt Sue or Book Allen, on account of their cruelty towards both her and their farm animals. As Iris gets closer to the farm animals, she is determined to save them from Aunt Sue's cruelty. But saving them may mean getting hurt herself, and Iris is not sure who is willing to save her.

It's hard to believe that this book was written by a man, because Iris' voice is so convincing. She is a bit on the quiet side, due to the upheavals she's had to endure, but she is far from weak: from the start, I admired how Iris respected her aunt yet did not let Sue trod all over her. This is a girl who has the capacity to love deeply, whose capacity to do so is tested by her circumstances. WHAT COMES AFTER was a gorgeous read primarily because of how believable Iris is.

It's easy to caricaturize villains, but Aunt Sue, Book, and other troubled characters in the book are well-rounded; we can believe that these people could exist in real life, even if we may not understand or agree with their attitudes or decisions. Watkins also knows his way around a farm: his depiction of the goats will tug at even a non-animal lover's heart, and I empathized with them as much as I would with a human character.

Overall, WHAT COMES AFTER is arguably one of the strongest contemporary reads I've had the pleasure of discovering this year so far.
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Format: Hardcover
Iris Wight doesn't remember much about her mother, she left when Iris was five years old and never returned. Now Iris is sixteen and she has just buried her father. The friends who promised her father they would care for her are having marital issues and can no longer keep their promise. She is forced to leave Maine and move to a farm in North Carolina to live with her Aunt Sue who she met once 14 years earlier. It soon becomes clear that the only reason her aunt agreed to take her was the money in her father's estate. Her life is lonely and difficult and the only comfort she finds is in the animals on the farm. But when Aunt Sue decides to slaughter her favorite goats Iris rebels and tries to save them. This results in an assault that lands Iris in the hospital and Aunt Sue and her son in jail. Iris is moved to a foster home and has to leave her beloved animals behind. Watkins has produced a touching novel about a strong, determined young woman who has been abandoned by those she loves for most of her life. Her response is to withdraw and try to do things on her own. But as the book progresses she realizes that she cannot accomplish her goal of keeping the animals safe all alone. She slowly opens up to the people around her, and even develops a relationship with a classmate who is dealing with his own loss.

This is one of the most heartbreaking novels I have read in a long time. This is not an action packed read, but rather a character driven story that was a delight to read. The main character, Iris, is a real teen who has had more hardship than should be allowed but her strength and determination shine through to allow her to remain strong and likable. She has abandonment woven into her life.
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