Please do not look at this book and cast it off as depressing fare. What Comes After by Steve Watkins is a heart-warming book full of hope in the midst of a lot of sadness. There are moments reading it when you will want to cry but there are plenty of others that will make you laugh and cheer. Iris is a strong female character. Having gone through so much, the abandonment of her mother, the death of her father, the abandonment of family friends, the emotional and physical abuse by her Aunt Sue and her Cousin Book, Iris has grown wise before her years and finds joy and happiness with Aunt Sue’s goats. While others in dire circumstances can’t find hope anywhere, Iris finds it in her love for animals. Her vegetarianism and interest in animals keeps her grounded in reality instead of escaping into the depths of depression. The organization of the story is very interesting. While it’s chronological with very few flashbacks, the beginning of the story starts with a newspaper article of an event that happens in the middle of the book. So for half of the novel you are expecting this major event to happen and for the rest of the novel you are reading the aftermath. I fell in love with Iris. She’s such a wonderful character that while I was reading the novel, I wished she would spring to life so I could meet her! I hope others will fall in love with this book as much as I did.
I listened to this book on audio and I have to say Emily Janice Card did a wonderful job in her performance. Her voice is very sweet and light which makes her sound like a young teenager and enhances the listener’s sympathy for Iris. I also enjoyed how Emily Janice Card did the Southern voices, especially that of Aunt Sue. I think well-performed audios like this one really make the listening experience wonderful.