Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Comes After by Steve Watkins

Iris is still devastated from the death of her father when she learns that she has to leave the only home she's known to go live with her aunt Sue and cousin Billy in North Carolina. Aunt Sue is harsh. She refuses to provide vegetarian food for Iris, she makes her work constantly, she spends all of Iris's inheritance on luxury items for herself, and she hits Iris if she dares to complain. The one saving grace in Iris's new life is that she gets to take care of the small herd of goats Aunt Sue keeps to make cheese. Iris becomes deeply attached to all the goats (and they to her), especially the three babies who are all boys. When Aunt Sue decides to kill the babies because they are not profitable for her, Iris knows she has to intervene to save them. But her decision to help the goats leads to an even more severe consequence that changes her life again. This book is full of tragedies big and small and yet it is also such a testament to hope and goodness. Since I love animals so much I was very worried about them but also about the depictions of what was happening to them. Although there are some hard scenes, I was able to get through them without feeling like the author had sensationalized them and, of course, Iris's love and personification of them mirrored my own. A really beautiful story that had me in (happy) tears by the end.

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