What Comes After was last modified: May 9th, 2014 by Jenny Sawyer
> Back to Reviews
Posted on by Jenny Sawyer
Title: The Hired Girl
Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Title: Bellweather Rhapsody
Author: Kate Racculia
Author: Steve Watkins
Genre: Fiction (YA)
Year published: 2011
Iris Wight has it rough. Her father’s dead. Her best friend’s family has decided they can’t keep her. Alone and hurting, Iris ends up at horrible Aunt Sue’s where her only solace is the goats … and even those, Iris discovers, can be taken from her in an instant. The first half of What Comes After is a particularly tough read, but Iris is a compelling protagonist whose falling-apart life still has moments of pure beauty—and welcome humor. You won’t be able to put this book down until you’re sure that Iris has found her way—which, through sheer determination (and some unexpected allies) Iris actually does.
When Iris Wight’s father dies, she hopes to find some comfort in life with her best friend’s family. But when tragedy follows her there, Iris is sent to live with her abusive aunt and cousin on a goat farm in North Carolina.
Life with Aunt Sue isn’t as bad as Iris expects; it’s worse. While her aunt tears through the money in Iris’s father’s estate, Iris is overworked, mistreated, and scorned—for her “uppity” behavior, and for being a vegetarian, and for anything else Aunt Sue can dream up.
But what no one on the ramshackle farm could have dreamed was the way Iris would fall in love with the goats—and the way her devotion to them would lead to her most horrifying treatment yet at the hands of Aunt Sue. Broken, afraid, and unable to trust anyone, it’s hard to imagine how Iris will be able to go on. But what comes after is the beauty of the way she does.
Beautiful is a good way to describe What Comes After, and that’s why it’s one of my favorites. Steve Watkins’ writing is transparent and sensitive. And you will absolutely fall in love with Iris, who struggles, falls, and makes her share of mistakes … but whose strength and fierce devotion mean that what comes after is, eventually, something very good.