After the death of her father, sixteen-year-old Iris Wight is uprooted from her hometown in Maine and sent to live on a farm in Craven County, North Carolina, with her hard-bitten aunt Sue and her hulking, monosyllabic cousin, Book. Almost immediately, Iris, a vegetarian and animal lover, clashes with Aunt Sue, who mistreats her livestock, fritters away Iris’s small inheritance, and thinks nothing of striking Iris for the smallest offense.
Grief-stricken and alone, Iris finds solace in her aunt’s willful but lovable herd of goats. But when Iris sets two of the young goats free to save them from slaughter, the tensions between her and Aunt Sue come to a frightening and violent head. Can Iris recover from tragedy for a second time and find a way to save not only her beloved goats but also herself?
Powerful and deeply moving, What Comes After is at its heart an affirmation of the redemptive power of animals and the resilience of the human spirit.
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Steve Watkins, an associate professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, has written several novels for young adults. He is a short-story writer and winner of a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
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