veterinarian father. Iris' mother abandoned the family a decade earlier, and so Iris has no choice but leave behind her native Maine and travel to a North Carolina farm to live with the aunt and cousin she hardly knows. Iris is hoping for the best, but as soon as she arrives she begins to clash with her Aunt Sue, who uses physical violence against both Iris and the livestock while spending away Iris's inheritance. When Iris sets free two goats to save them from slaughter, Aunt Sue gets her son, Book, to beat Iris. But when Aunt Sue and Book land in jail for their actions, Iris is sent to live with a new foster family and their ferrets. All Iris can think of is the poor animals back at the farm, but in order to care for them she must first visit the jail and confront Aunt Sue.
What Comes After was one of those unfortunate cases where the blurb explaining the book gave away way more than was necessary and meant that I was tapping my foot waiting for the first half the book to catch up to where the summary had left off. Specifically, for a blurb that gives so much importance to Iris visiting her Aunt in jail, the actual event goes fairly quickly. To be honest, I'm not really sure what the climax of the novel is which seems to indicate that the pacing wasn't very good. That said, What Comes After definitely had me near tears on several occasions. Personally, I find myself very emotional when stories involve animals so Watkins definitely had my attention as soon as the lives of Iris' goats were threatened.
Iris was an extremely sympathetic main character who clearly had a rough life and somehow manages to be a good person despite it all. Although she does have her acts of rebellion, like slashing the tires on the truck that Aunt Sue buys using her inheritance, Watkins makes her actions understandable. The writing in the novel is okay, but where Watkins excels is giving real personality and heart to the animals on the farm so that the reader almost becomes more invested in their outcome than Iris'. I also really enjoyed the many different personalities in the book, especially Iris' friend Littleberry, who has just about the worse name I've ever seen in literature but who gives the novel dimension by being both a country boy, a goth, and somebody who is also dealing with their own issues. Overall, even if the pacing for What Comes After was a little off, the characters, especially the animals, are what makes the book memorable.
Release Date: April 12th, 2011
Source: ARC From Publisher
Buy the Book