What Comes After
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What Comes After

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  442 ratings  ·  94 reviews
A gripping portrait of a teen’s struggles through grief and abuse - and the miraculous power of animals to heal us.

After her veterinarian dad dies, sixteen-year-old Iris Wight must leave her beloved Maine to live on a North Carolina farm with her hardbitten aunt and a cousin she barely knows. Iris, a vegetarian and animal lover, immediately clashes with Aunt Sue, who mistr...more
Hardcover, 334 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Candlewick Press
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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta SepetysDivergent by Veronica RothA Monster Calls by Patrick NessOkay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtDaughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Mock Printz 2012
32nd out of 51 books — 269 voters
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBrideWhat Comes After by Steve WatkinsSorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew QuickVirals by Kathy ReichsThe Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt
Yalsa Amazing Audiobook Nominees
2nd out of 44 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

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Missy (Missy's Reads & Reviews)
After reading this novel, the first thought through my mind was how unusual it was to have a book about a female character that focused more on her growth as a character rather than a romance. Did I mind it? Absolutely not! It was a refreshing change of scenery. Scenery that included one incredibly written main character... and animals. Yes, animals! Do I have your attention yet, fellow animal lovers?

Iris is one of those characters that you cannot help but love. Her best character is that she is...more
Apr 14, 2011 Darlene rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young adults and adults, male or female
Recommended to Darlene by: First-Reads
What Comes After is truly a gift. Though I won it for free through GoodReads First-Reads, and though, by necessity I am a penny pincher, this is worth whatever price the author and publishers decide.

Steve Watkins wrote this with such skill that it grabbed me by heart and soul, right from the start. The story and characters are well developed over the course of the novel.

I had to keep looking at the cover to see who wrote this. It is very seldom that a male author can capture female thoughts and...more
Melissa (i swim for oceans)
Iris hardly lives the life that every teen wants to live. After a tremendous loss, she's thrust into a world completely foreign to her that turns abusive, painful and emotionally destructive. So when things finally turn around for Iris and she's sent to another place that's quirky, but instills a desire for her to care for those animals she's left behind, no matter what. Is she brave enough to face the horrors she left, and can she do it for more than the animals...can she do it for herself?

Sydney Faestel
The book what comes after was a really good book. Even though at some parts it was sad it was still really good. After her dad dies in Main Iris goes to live with her aunt and cousin, which she doesn't know, in North Carolina. Her Aunt Sue and cousin Book live on a farm with goats and a dog. As soon as she got there they made her start doing chores on the farm and didn't make her feel very welcome. Going from a big city in Maine to a small town in North Carolina was different for her. Aunt Sue i...more
Apr 15, 2011 Pam rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
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...more
This one earns a strong 4.

High praise for a book: when I want to read it at non-reading times, such as when I get home from work or instead of working during lunch. This one was that way. In fact, I was multi-tasking at work when I read a scene that nearly brought me to tears. Since the episode is alluded to in the newspaper account that opens the novel, I'm not counting it as a spoiler.

Iris issent to live with her aunt and cousin in North Carolina when her vet father dies of a lung ailment and...more
What Comes After by Steve Watkins is a great novel, yet extremely sad. You’ll be heartbroken, but there is hope!

What Comes After tells a story of a girl named Iris, whose father passed away and her mother who left at a very young age. When Iris’ father has passed away, she had to go and live with her Aunt Sue and cousin Book.

This is where the story begins, when Iris has to live with her relatives, her remaining family. I really enjoy Iris’ character because I feel like many people are able to re...more
Sab H.  (YA Bliss)
I was blown away by the fierceness of this novel. It's hard to find a book as cruel as it is hopeful, especially when reading realistic fiction. Watkins created a wonderfully intricate plot out of several relatively mundane issues. But putting them together worked wonders. I've been reading a lot of books set in farms lately, but the way Watkins made it all come to life, his portrayal of the goats and the routines, were absolutely amazing.

Iris's voice was beyond astonishing. I'm always delighted...more
What Comes After is a remarkable story about a remarkable young woman. Sixteen-year-old Iris becomes an orphan and goes to live with her abusive aunt after her father dies. She’s a vegetarian and a huge animal lover and hates that her aunt and cousin treat the animals so poorly. After her cousin Book kills one of the baby goats, she decides to set them free and in turn, she gets beaten so badly by her aunt and cousin that she ends up in a hospital and into another family’s hands.
I felt really ba...more
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 a...more
Wow - what a powerful and poignant story. Watkins took a disturbing true story and gave the characters a life and dimension that was truly engaging. One wanted to cry with, protect and cheer for Iris as she struggled through the loss of everything she had ever known and entered a life of fear and struggle. Despite the hardships she encountered Iris developed into a strong, capable and influential character. She took horrible situations, and usually by following her heart, found the good and enco...more
I was trying to tell a friend what I loved about this book. There's so much, it's hard to list. I'm thinking I'll go for bullet points.

1) It's a difficult read in terms of subject matter, but it is so beautifully written you can make it through.

2) There's a romance, but it is not the central story line.

3) Really strong, smart teenage girl protagonist. You feel for her and understand her from page one.

4) the author manages to paint the "villains" of the book with broad brush strokes; you might no...more
Aimee Ferguson
I've been trying to write a review for this for awhile, and keep getting stuck. My feelings are kinda lukewarm. At first, I didn't think that I would be able to finish it. I picked it up, on a whim, when collecting a large pile of books, so it wasn't exactly what I normally read. For that reason, I gave it a little longer and kept reading. Now, I'm glad that I did, because it did get better with time.

Honestly, the goats were my favourite part of the book. Iris was a good narrator, especially wh...more
The only reason this book deserves four stars is because it almost squeezed a tear out of me. I laugh when people die in books, but if you stick an animal abused/mistreated/scarred/beaten/killed in any sort of plot, then I become emotionally constipated and...

Well, yeah. You get it.

So what have I learned from this book?

I'd like to kill some of those North Carolina rednecks in the book. With a machete.

I received an advanced copy of this book to review on www.bookscompleteme.com Once my post is published there (6/4/11), I will post it here. I loved this book. TOTALLY LOVED IT! I did not put it down once I started it. I was cooking supper with the book in my hand. Steve Watkins did an EXCELLENT job on this book. I need to check further into how much is based on an actual event as that is just heart wrenching!
Jeßyka Brown
What Comes After was a good book. It was not mind blowing, or even particularly deep, and I don't feel as if the grief that Iris felt properly portrayed someone who had lost their entire family, their entire world. She was very strong in what she had to endure after her entire life fell apart, and I thought that it was a very moving story after she left Maine and ended up in North Carolina, dead father and awful best friend aside. It reminded me of a typical foster care story instead of a loss s...more
WHAT COMES AFTER is a heart-wrenching look into the the life of a young girl named Iris Wight who loses her father and must live with her mother’s aunt whom she barely knows in North Carolina. Iris’ mother left years ago and the only person Iris counts on to stay with is her best friend, Beatrice and her family. Beatrice’s parents promised Iris’ father they would look after her, but they are going through difficult marital problems and feel it would be best for Iris to live with her aunt. Iris l...more
Emma Louise
This book really should have come with a disclaimer: If you don't like goats, you probably won't like this book.

I'm just saying it was a very goat-focused book. That's not a bad thing, really, it's just... a lot of goat stuff.

Okay, perhaps I should get on with a more constructive review. The book follows the story of Iris whose father had just passed away. The story begins with her living with her best friend and her family but for whatever reason (we don't really find out, but in a way we do),...more
Steve Watkins was inspired for this book by a newspaper article he had read one day about a young girl that was attacked. He had thought abour all the others he had known of also and decided that their stories should be heard. This book is being released in April 2011.

The main character is Iris. After the passing of her father, she goes to live with her best friend's family until some marital issues become too complicated. She is then forced to go live with an aunt that she had only met a couple...more
What Comes After by Steve Watkins begins following the death of sixteen-year-old Iris Wright's 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...more
I wouldn't have picked this book up on my own based on the blurb on the back cover. A girl who is attached to the goats on her aunt's farm? Yeah, not so much.

Fortunately a friend of mine passed along the audio book and I loaded it onto my phone to listen to during workouts and car rides. I really enjoyed it! It definitely tackles some heavy subjects. Iris' father dies, and because her mother walked away from the family years ago, Iris is left to live with a verbally and physically abusive aunt....more
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...more
Corinne L. Gaile
Author Steve Watkins begins the book with a newspaper clip about an aunt and cousin accused of badly beating a recently orphaned girl placed in their care. So we know what happened to sixteen-year-old Iris, but this is a story about What Comes After.

I loved this quietly powerful story about a girl, abandoned and disappointed by the adults and friends that she trusted, who chooses love and kindness despite the meanness that surrounds her.
Through Iris’s authentic voice, we feel the emotional and...more
Steph Su
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.

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 ove...more
Liz (Consumed by Books)
To be honest, I hadn’t really read any reviews of What Comes After before picking it up. Even though it sounded like a gut-wrenching read, my interest was piqued when I saw it was partially about animals. I started and finished this book in the span of about 48 hours. Packed with emotion, What Comes After is a touching, page-turning read.

After her father dies, Irish Wight has to move in with relatives who are total opposites of her. Because Aunt Sue is Iris’s guardian, this book also deals with...more
When fifteen-year-old Iris Wight’s veterinarian dad dies, she first lives with Beatrice, her best friend and softball teammate, and her family. When Beatrice’s parents begin to have marital problems, they tell Iris they can no longer care for her and she must go to live with her Aunt Sue and cousin Book in Craven County, NC. It does not go well from the moment her aunt picks her up at the airport. One bright spot in her new life is caring for the goats that she must milk and then make cheese, wh...more
I picked up this book at the library, the summer before middle school. I don't know what it was about it that made me seem so fascinated in such a mature book... Maybe the fact that I loved the name Iris; or maybe the fact that I have always had a strange fascination with wish daisies. Whatever it was, I will forever be grateful I picked it up.

16 year old vegetarian Iris Wight had a strong relationship with her dad, and when he dies, she goes to live on a farm with unruly Aunt Sue and amazingly...more
Kristina Jo
This one has a relatively happy ending, so if that's all you're looking for, I feel comfortable recommending this one. However, the middle bits can get hideously graphic. I had to stop listening at one point and get a hug from my mother. (view spoiler)

One positive thing that ha...more
Sixteen Iris Wight's father has just died. Her mother left her family when she was a toddler and the plans had been for her to move in with her best friend's family. Despite deathbed promises, that family is imploding with divorce on the horizon and she is told it won't work. She is shuttled to her only surviving relatives, her Aunt Sue and cousin Book in Craven County, NC. A strict vegetarian who grew up with a vet for a father, she now lives with an Aunt who uses her money on a new tv, new Tun...more
Why I read this: I really thought this one sounded good, despite it not being my favorite genre and decided to give it a try.

Plot: This book is a mix of emotions. Iris goes through a lot, she loses her dad, the friend she was staying with forces her to leave because her parents were fighting, and then she has to deal with an abrasive aunt who turns out to be more abusive than Iris first thought. I have to say, the way she coped was very realistic, she turned to what she knew she loved - animals,...more
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Steve Watkins is the author of Down Sand Mountain, a young adult novel published in October 2008 by Candlewick Press. Another young adult novel, Goat Girl, is scheduled for publication by Candlewick Press in spring 2011.

Steve is also author of a short story collection, My Chaos Theory (2006, Southern Methodist University Press), which was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize, and an Honorable...more
More about Steve Watkins...
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“In the silence, I could hear the distinct sound of goats maa-ing in the barn. Lying there listening to them made me smile, too. I'd always loved goats - every one of them different from every other one, and all of them goofy and playful.” 4 likes
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