What Comes After

By Steve Watkins
(Candlewick Press (MA), Hardcover, 9780763642501, 334pp.)

Publication Date: April 12, 2011

List Price: $16.99*
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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 mistreats the livestock, spends Iris’s small inheritance, and thinks nothing of striking Iris for the smallest offense. Things come to a head when Iris sets two young goats free to save them from slaughter, and an enraged Aunt Sue orders her brutish son, Book, to beat Iris senseless - a horrific act that lands Book and his mother in jail. Sent to live with an offbeat foster family and their "dooking" ferrets, Iris must find a way to take care of the animals back at the farm, even if it means confronting Aunt Sue. Powerful and deeply moving, this compelling novel affirms the redemptive power of animals and the resilience of the human spirit.

About the Author
Steve Watkins is the author of the novels Down Sand Mountain, which won a Golden Kite Award, and What Comes After. He is also the author of a nonfiction book and short-story collection for adults and is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize. About Juvie, he says, One of the few hopeful things about juvenile detention that I saw during my visits is all the reading that goes on there. No electronic devices are allowed, and there s limited TV time and access to video games, but there s a lot of reading. Ten hours a night is a long time alone in your cell. With a book, at least, you re not quite as alone, and reading can take you to other, better worlds. Steve Watkins is a retired professor of journalism, creative writing, and Vietnam War literature. He now spends his days teaching Ashtanga yoga, working with the child advocacy organization CASA, and writing books for young adults. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with his family.
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