What comes after / JoAnne Tompkins.
- ISBN: 9780593085998
- ISBN: 059308599X
- Physical Description: 419 pages ; 24 cm
- Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2021.
- Copyright: ©2021
"In misty, coastal Washington state, Isaac lives alone with his dog, grieving the recent death of his teenage son Daniel. Next door, Lorrie, a working single mother, struggles with a heinous act committed by her own teenage son. Separated by only a silvery stretch of trees, the two parents are emotionally stranded, isolated by their great losses- until an unfamiliar sixteen year-old girl shows up, bridges the gap, and changes everything. Evangeline's arrival at first feels like a blessing, but she is also clearly hiding something. When Isaac, who has retreated into his Quaker faith, isn't equipped to handle her alone, Lorrie forges her own relationship with the girl. Soon all three characters are forced to examine what really happened in their overlapping pasts, and what it all possibly means for a shared future."--Provided by publisher
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|Subject:||Teenagers > Fiction.
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|Genre:||Detective and mystery fiction.
What Comes After : A Novel
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
It begins with the murder of a golden boy, Daniel, by his lifelong best friend, 17-year-old Jonah, who then commits suicide. What comes after? A good deal, starting with the introduction of 16-year-old Evangeline, who is homeless and impoverished, her single-parent mother having abandoned her. Worse, she's pregnant and, tellingly, has known--however briefly--both Daniel and Jonah. Enter Daniel's father, Isaac, a devout Quaker whose wife has left him. He providentially discovers Evangeline bedded down under a tree in his yard and offers her shelter. Finally, there is Lorrie, Jonah's mother and Isaac's neighbor, who reveals a secret that causes a bitter falling-out with Isaac. So, large issues are being considered here: life, death, and religion (Isaac is having a crisis of faith). All of this abundant material is deftly handled by Tompkins, who employs three different and very individual voices to tell her challenging tale: Isaac's and Jonah's stories are told in first person, while Evangeline's is revealed at a remove in third person. The tone? It's almost relentlessly morose and melancholy, but that's not bad; in fact, the novel is very good but emotionally difficult to read. As for the characters: they are examined in microscopic detail, readers coming to know them almost better than they know themselves. Expect some tears before the story ends, but also admire the art that the author brings to this exceptional literary thriller.
Publishers Weekly Review
What Comes After : A Novel
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Tompkins's intense debut blends a mystery and a depiction of a Quaker community's psychological processing of grief after the death of two teenage boys. Daniel Balch is killed by his childhood friend and next-door neighbor, Jonah Geiger, who then dies by suicide. In the aftermath, Daniel's father, Isaac, a teacher at the high school, takes in an abandoned pregnant 16-year-old girl, Evangeline McKensey, and later wonders if either Jonah or Daniel was the father. Meanwhile, Jonah's widowed mother, Lorrie, helps Isaac with Evangeline, and Isaac's friend and high school principal, Peter Thibodeau, worries about what it would mean for the truth to come out about the pregnancy. Tompkins slowly and tantalizingly draws out the details as Isaac struggles with his faith. Chapters from Jonah's point of view can be wrenching, especially when he reflects on good versus evil and his experiences in Quaker meetings, but at other times they fall flat and feel overstuffed with exposition. Tompkins's strong point is in deepening the emotional complexities of each character's actions with well-placed backstory, as with Lorrie's and Peter's involvement in the stories of Jonah and Evangeline. While anger, loss, and grief dominate the characters' lives, forgiveness and connection ease the pain. At its best, this illuminates the limits of faith when facing the darker corners of human behavior. (Apr.)