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What Comes After
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What Comes After

4.5 11
by Steve Watkins, Emily Janice Card (Read by)

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After the death of her father, sixteen-year-old Iris Wight is uprooted from her hometown in Maine and sent to live on a farm in Craven County, North Carolina, with her hard-bitten aunt Sue and her hulking, monosyllabic cousin, Book. Almost immediately, Iris, a vegetarian and animal lover, clashes with Aunt Sue, who mistreats her livestock, fritters away Iris’s


After the death of her father, sixteen-year-old Iris Wight is uprooted from her hometown in Maine and sent to live on a farm in Craven County, North Carolina, with her hard-bitten aunt Sue and her hulking, monosyllabic cousin, Book. Almost immediately, Iris, a vegetarian and animal lover, clashes with Aunt Sue, who mistreats her livestock, fritters away Iris’s small inheritance, and thinks nothing of striking Iris for the smallest offense.

Grief-stricken and alone, Iris finds solace in her aunt’s willful but lovable herd of goats. But when Iris sets two of the young goats free to save them from slaughter, the tensions between her and Aunt Sue come to a frightening and violent head. Can Iris recover from tragedy for a second time and find a way to save not only her beloved goats but also herself?

Powerful and deeply moving, What Comes After is at its heart an affirmation of the redemptive power of animals and the resilience of the human spirit.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Lisa Greenberg
This powerful novel, triggered by a newspaper article and transmuted by the writer's artistry into a story of hope and self-knowledge, speaks to all teens, even though many will never share Iris's experience. Abandoned by her mother at age five, close to her father until he dies, Iris at sixteen also suffers the betrayal of her best friend Beatrice's family. While Beatrice's parents promised her dying father to take care of her, the girls discover they are planning to separate. Soon Iris is sent to her mother's sister Aunt Patsy and her football-playing son Book. Life with Aunt Patsy turns out to be nothing like life with Dad. While the reader never understands why Aunt Patsy dislikes both Iris and her mother, Iris discovers relatives who do not welcome her, except for her inheritance, and actively work against her principles, such as vegetarianism and learning. She becomes more and more isolated, even from her distant friend Beatrice. After taking care of Aunt Patsy's goats for months, she realized the kids will be slaughtered, so she shelters them. Aunt Patsy forces Book to beat Iris until Iris ends up in a hospital and Patsy and Book go to jail. Iris, a gutsy girl, has to rebuild her life a second time, finally recognizing that to nurture the goats and build a community, she must find friends in her new school, discover the love in her ferret-crazy foster family, and pay off Aunt Patsy's debts. She does it all with passion and, in the end, joy. The reader, with Iris, grows in empathy and self-knowledge through this book. Reviewer: Lisa Greenberg
VOYA - Laurie Cavanaugh
Because a newspaper clipping at the beginning outlines the facts about what happens to sixteen-year-old Iris Wight in the first half of this first-person novel, the abuse by relatives assigned to care for her after her father's death does not come as a surprise. What comes as a surprise is how—after being uprooted from Maine and sent to live on a rundown farm with her aunt and older cousin in North Carolina's aptly named Craven County—Iris channels her emotions into caring for her aunt's neglected goats. Even after being savagely punished for protecting the animals, Iris risks everything she has left not to betray the trust she feels the goats have placed in her. The author draws on his work in the juvenile justice system to imagine Iris's detached observations of her own response to tragic loss and her placement with strangers, relatives of the mother who deserted her years before. Details about farm life, softball, goats, and cheese making, as well as high school (some underage drinking, pot smoking, and bullying), hold the reader's interest, but Iris's detachment keeps the reader—and the people who try to befriend her—at a distance. Although darker in tone, this story of farm chores, family dysfunction, perseverance, and hope may appeal to teens who like Dairy Queen (Graphia, 2006/VOYA June 2006) by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, as well as teens looking for unsensationalized stories of resilience after abuse. Reviewer: Laurie Cavanaugh
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—When 16-year-old Iris's father dies, she is sent from her suburban home in Maine to her aunt's goat farm in North Carolina. Her presence there is barely tolerated, and she is treated as little more than a slave. Aunt Sue expects Iris to rise early, care for the goats, and make the cheese that they sell in a local farmer's market. When school lets out, there are more chores, while her cousin Book goofs off with his buds. Iris doesn't really mind, though, because she has a passion for animals. When her aunt instructs Book to butcher three of the goats, Iris protests, and in retaliation she is brutally beaten. Aunt Sue and Book are arrested for the crime, and Iris goes to live with a local foster family. Now, though, who will take care of the goats? She feels powerless but knows that she has to do something, even if it means confronting her aunt. The story moves at a gentle pace, slowly pulling readers into Iris's cheerless world. The teen is realistically emotional and stubborn, and the secondary characters are well developed. Give this one to teens who enjoy dramatic plots with rays of hope at the end.—Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL
Kirkus Reviews

Abandoned first by her abusive mother and then by her father when he dies, 16-year-old Iris Wight is no stranger to loss. Family friends initially agree to care for her, but problems soon force Iris to leave her home in Maine to live with relatives in North Carolina. Life with her angry aunt and dangerous cousin quickly proves more than she can handle. Before Iris' arrival, her aunt's abusive behavior was focused on the farm animals, but as Iris begins to protest the inhumane treatment of the goats, her aunt's cruelty shifts toward her. The violence culminates in a horrific beating that lands Iris in the hospital and her aunt and cousin in jail, leaving Iris to navigate yet another change. She must learn to wade through the foster-care system and deal with animosity at school while trying to find a way to care for her beloved goats left back at the farm. While never gratuitous, violence is pervasive; difficult scenes include one that graphically describes a goat being bludgeoned to death, which may prove to be a turn-off for some readers. Watkins displays his expertise as he creates a heroine who is broken and yet refuses to stay down. Secondary characters are equally well-developed and engaging. Beautifully written, this story is an unflinching look at the cruelty of life as well as the resilience of the human spirit. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 7 CDs, 8 hrs. 16 min.
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Steve Watkins, an associate professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, is a short-story writer and winner of a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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What Comes After 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome!!!! It is about a girl whos dad died and so she had to go stay with her aunt who abuses her. In the end she gets what she obviously wanted;happiness
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in 3 days and thats pretty fast for me!!! Every second i got i wanted to read this book. I personally felt terrible for iris and all she has been through. I think that the austhor of this book should write a second one on where Iris is now. Think this is a great book! Again it was 233 pages and you will get sucked in, in no time. The begining isnt the best but if you keep reading it gets better.. i promise!!!! Enjoy!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“What Comes After” Review In “What Comes After,” the story is about a teenage girl named Iris whom has suffered the loss of her father, and the abandonment of her mother when she was a little girl. She has to leave everything behind including her best friend Beatrice back in Maine, to go live with her Aunt Sue and cousin, Book, down in North Carolina. Iris’s life is filled with only sorrow and heavy chores around the farm; not to mention the hatred she has to deal with from her aunt. The only friends Iris has is a dog named Gnarly, and the other residents that live on the farm- goats, but one day, everything changes when Aunt Sue’s abuse is taken too far. The author of “What Comes After,” Steve Watkins, wrote this because he was trying to convey to the reader that life isn’t what you’ll normally expect- a perfect family, perfect friends, etc. That simply doesn’t exist, but, he did try to tell his audience that what comes after a big storm, is a rainbow. Just when you think you are thrown a curve-ball, be ready to swing at it in case it’s curved right toward your face. This book has a moral, and that is basically the importance of staying strong throughout the rough moments life can throw at you; if you don’t, then there’s no reason to fight for your life in the first place. Iris thought she had nothing, but really, all she had was herself and the animals on the farm, and that was all she really needed; all she fought for. Personally, I find this book interesting. The reason why I find it interesting, is because it is easy to connect to, and understand what this girl was going through. It gives the readers some gratification to know that their lives aren’t as bad as Iris’s life. It makes the readers feel thankful as well. Pretty much anyone who likes the thrill of an “emotional rollercoaster” would enjoy curling up with this book on a rainy afternoon. The story, although fictional, is accurate to regular aspects of life: teen hood, family issues, school, etc. This novel did a great job of making that connection with the reader because we all either are, or have gone through some sort of dilemma that has left a mark on us. So, because of this connection with the events that happen to Iris, it gives the audience an opportunity to bond with her not just as a character, but as a real person, too. In my opinion, the topic of this storyline is what everyone needs to read. If people didn’t, they wouldn’t necessarily be ignorant, but would be hindering themselves from wonderful emotional experience. They would also ignore the fact on how to perceive life different from the norm. The thoroughness is clear and is interpreted well. Everything that happens to Iris is explained through her thought process. Iris explains why Aunt Sue is bitter; she explains why Book acts the way he does, and Iris can interpret why Beatrice doesn’t act the same after she moved to North Carolina. All current events are clear, except for why there’s a predicament between her mother, and Aunt Sue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't eat bacon ewwwwww gross I eat soy bacon it is sooo good
Jeanette de la Rosa More than 1 year ago
The story was great but there were some parts that made me really sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How can one servive without BACON????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it sounds like good book, but a little violent. What is the thing Book does that is so bad it lands him and his mom in jail?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1 . It should be i havent read this book yet or something like that. 2. It is illegal to assult someone and when he did someone found out and he was sent to jail. Hope this helped, Jasmine