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What Comes After

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Two teenage boys. Both dead but only one to blame. They had been best friends since they were 3 years old, neighbors, even though the two couldn't be more different. How did this happen?

Isaac, a Quaker, is reeling from his son Daniels death. Divorced from his wife he's left with his dog Rufus as his only company.

Just across the way is Lorrie a widow. She too lost her son, Jonah. He killed himself after admitting to killing Daniel.

Then there is Evangeline. She is a pregnant 16 year old girl who Isaac finds sleeping in the field outside of his house. He takes her in and from here we read a story about grief and loss and love and hope.

My goodness this book made me emotional on many occasions. I grew to love and care about all of the characters. Especially Rufus, what an amazing dog! I'll admit this book is not an easy read. It's going to grab you by the heart and kick you in the stomach all at the same time. An amazing book, truly, especially seeing that this is a debut. My only very small complaint would be that it ended rather abruptly and I wanted more closure for our characters. I can't speak for everyone but I want to believe they all got the happy ending they deserve. If you recently read We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker and enjoyed it then this is one that you should definitely pick up. Highly recommend!

Thank you to NetGalley and Riverhead books for my copy.
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“The greatest mysteries lie hidden in what we believe we already know”

Here is an emotional read centered on lost souls, human relationships, and the devastating grip of grief.  Joanne Thompkins’ debut novel reveals the human aftermath following a teen murder and suicide in a small town.   If that weren’t enough, add a mysterious pregnant teen to the community.   The story is a mystery, but focused on the tragic characters and the revealing of their complex inner demons and motivations.

The book is told in 3 voices:
Evangeline, the pregnant teen, is forced to grow up quick.  She has a tough exterior, doesn’t trust people and lacks self worth stemming from a life of abandonment.  Her pregnancy motivates her to find a way out.

Isaac is the stoic dad of the murdered teen, in denial about the people he loves and in denial about himself.  He is forced to look into his soul and face his truth and his feelings about his friends, family, faith, and self.

Jonah is the boy who commits suicide.  His perspective is so sensitive, raw and vulnerable.  His is the most painful to read.  In his head, he see his brokenness.  He is driven by fear and love and the need to keep others safe from the monster in his head.

These characters as well as many others (including a wonderfully written dog Rufus) are complex.  The author touches on themes of abandonment, belonging, betrayal, abuse, acceptance, trust, self worth, security, spirituality, purpose, and choosing life.  The book also offered interesting insight into the Quaker faith.  After reading it, I needed to take a few days to process my range of emotion.  Be ready, this book with take you there.

“Some hearts are stronger than others.  I think every heart knows when it’s had enough. 

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC!
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This is one astoundingly phenomenal debut - beautifully written, each character's story a standout that could very well stand alone, yet they are so intricately woven together that's hard to imagine one without the other. It's also the kind of book that hurts (heartbreaking doesn't begin to describe it) but simultaneously so captures the heart that it's impossible to put down. Evangleline is worth the price of admission alone. I will be putting this one in many a hand. One of my favorite reads of the year so far. Word of caution: Certain subjects may be painful triggers for some, so best to read the description first.
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WHAT COMES AFTER is a poignant and suspenseful debut novel about the tensions of love, anger, courage, forgiveness and everything in between. Set in a coastal Washington town rocked by a shocking tragedy, JoAnne Tompkins’ first book is an unforgettable story of life after loss.

One week into his senior year of high school, Daniel Balch does not come home after football practice. He is strikingly handsome, athletic and well-liked, and is treated as a sort of hero in his small town, so his father, Isaac, is not too concerned at first. But when he still has not shown up by morning, a search begins. On the eighth day of Daniel’s disappearance, his childhood best friend, Jonah, dies by suicide, leaving behind a note not only saying goodbye, but confessing to Daniel’s murder and leading the police to his violently stabbed body. Jonah gives no reason for the attack, but locals --- and Isaac --- immediately start to weigh the boys’ differences: Daniel was attractive and popular, while Jonah was jumpy and awkward. It is proposed that a girl might have been involved, but even that explanation lacks evidence. However, there is a young lady who knows more about the boys than even their closest friends and relatives.

Sixteen-year-old Evangeline McKensey’s luck has run dry. She has been abandoned by her Jesus-obsessed mother for a life of drug addiction and wretched men, and she is just a few days away from being evicted from her home. She is also pregnant. Like everyone in Port Furlong, she has been watching and listening for more news about the murder-suicide that ripped their town in half. But unlike her fellow citizens and their half-baked theories, she spent time with both boys in their last days, and she saw sides of them that others didn’t. Since the discovery of Daniel’s body, she has become drawn to Isaac, who, even in the most emotional press conferences, seems to possess an otherworldly stillness. It is this surety, this stoicism, that leads her to trek into town to find Daniel’s home and wait for something, though she’s not sure what that is.

When Isaac discovers a dirty, disheveled, pregnant teenager on his property, he knows that he must act with charity and kindness. He welcomes her into his home and is shocked by the filth under her fingernails and the bloody scratches on her hands. He gives her a bed for the night and some clean clothes left over from his ex-wife. In an even greater act of kindness, he accepts her flimsy story about a deceased mother, a drug-addicted aunt and a random bus trip to Port Furlong. Although Evangeline does not mention her connection to Daniel, she and Isaac strike up a quiet, careful companionship, all while she prepares for motherhood and he attempts to face his grief and anger head-on. A devout Quaker who has practiced stoicism for practically his entire life, Isaac is drawn to protect Evangeline, who he senses has never known true love or kindness. But he is also intrigued by her potential connection to Daniel, which stirs curiosity, rage and profound sadness in him all at once.

Living next door to Isaac and Evangeline is Lorrie, Jonah’s mother. While Isaac and his wife, and Lorrie and her husband, were once all friends --- their sons growing up and playing alongside one another --- they were pushed apart by divorce, death and the boys’ friendship dissolving. But now the connection between their sons is unavoidable. Isaac is desperate to forgive Lorrie for Jonah's hand in Daniel’s death, but he finds himself behaving coldly, even cruelly, to her as she starts to befriend Evangeline and help her navigate her pregnancy. When it becomes clear that Evangeline knew Daniel and Jonah, and that she might even be carrying one of their babies, Evangeline, Isaac and Lorrie are thrust into a painful, revealing communion that forces them to confront their own relationships with the boys, themselves and one another.

With a murder mystery that is more murder than mystery at its heart, WHAT COMES AFTER is a propulsive read that explores the after-effects of tragedy. There is much to be said for Tompkins’ weaving of anger and grief, love and forgiveness, but it is Evangeline and Isaac who make the novel unforgettable. Isaac is a unique character in that he is profoundly self-aware: he knows how to forgive Lorrie, how to approach Evangeline, and even how to be a friend to his struggling coworker. And yet, like any human, he has tremendous blind spots, and it is in these moments where Tompkins truly shines. Because Isaac is so introspective and stoic, his rage, jealousy and envy are all the more shocking and impactful in their emotional tension. His relationship with Lorrie, in particular, is written more tautly and deeply than almost any other friendship, romance or rivalry I have ever read. Tompkins is incredibly skilled at taking huge, universal themes and packing them into tight, intimate scenes, never once losing the strength or gut punch of the emotions behind them.

In Evangeline, too, Tompkins does something remarkable by taking a practically feral, destitute girl and showing readers how painful it can be to accept something good when all you’ve known is bad. Evangeline is a well-written teen, but even more than that, she is a beautifully written victim, who has learned to navigate the ins and outs of abuse, poverty and hopelessness like a sadness cartographer. So fine-tuned is her grasp of her landscape that she perceives even the smallest kindness to be a trap. Tompkins is sharp in her characterization of Evangeline, but she is also respectful, never rushing the character toward a breakthrough and pacing out every downslide so that it becomes a learning moment.

As utterly moving and poignant as the book is, I found some of Tompkins' choices a bit jarring. While Isaac’s chapters are written in first-person, Evangeline’s are in third, and the transition between the two could be distracting. There were also some subplots, like the plight of Isaac’s coworker, that felt extraneous to the main storyline. With so much potential and tension in the relationships between Isaac, Evangeline and Lorrie, anything that took the spotlight away from them felt vestigial.

Perfect for readers of THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH, HOUSE ON FIRE and WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, WHAT COMES AFTER is an impressive debut by an author who is clearly here to stay.
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Let’s talk about the rewards of staying with a book. I’d been looking forward to reading 𝙒𝙃𝘼𝙏 𝘾𝙊𝙈𝙀𝙎 𝘼𝙁𝙏𝙀𝙍! for a very long time. When I finally started reading, I wasn’t immediately drawn in and I felt a little trepidation. It wasn’t the propulsive start I’d expected. Instead the it was a little quiet as JoAnne Tompkins began layering in her characters and their stories. My curiosity about where she was taking her story kept me going and thank goodness for that. By the end of Part 1, I was there; by the end of Part 2, I was totally immersed; by the end of Part 3, I was completely awed!⁣⁣
This is the story of a pregnant homeless girl who finds herself in the most unlikely of places. It’s the story of two grieving parents who have both lost their teenage sons, one at the hand of the other. ⁣⁣
“𝘋𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘣𝘰𝘺𝘴. 𝘐𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘸𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘰𝘧 𝘑𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘋𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘦𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘺. 𝘋𝘦𝘢𝘥. 𝘉𝘰𝘺𝘴. 𝘕𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴, 𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘤. 𝘈𝘴 𝘪𝘧 𝘴𝘩𝘦’𝘥 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘪𝘵. 𝘚𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘺. 𝘞𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘴𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘬 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘢𝘣𝘺 𝘵𝘰𝘰?”⁣⁣
It’s a story of hard truths, personal growth, loyalty, forgiveness, and love in seemingly impossible situations. 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘈𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 is beautifully told, covering complex relationships through the voices of three different narrators. Being from the Puget Sound area, I loved its local setting. Some call this book a thriller, but I would not. To me it is more of a very literary mystery, but either way 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘈𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 will most definitely stay with me for a very long time. ⁣⁣
A huge thank you to @riverheadbooks for this beautiful finished copy.⁣⁣
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What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins begins with two missing boys in the Pacific Northwest. The boys, friends and neighbors, are found dead, one murdered by the other. Their families struggle with grief and confusion and anger, until 16-year-old Evangeline mysteriously appears in town. Pregnant and alone, Evangeline connects the two families and starts them on a path of healing and forgiveness. 

Told in alternating perspectives (including a “death diary” of one of the boys), the mystery of what happened to Evangeline and the boys slowly unfolds. What Comes After is not a thriller; instead, it’s a novel about loss and grief, about forgiveness and acceptance, and about what family truly means.
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The story could tear up someone stoic! This was a very heartfelt story about family, love, forgiveness, and trust. Family issues like this can really be too delicate as someone who also knows the pain can relive the time where that pain originated. But the possibility of a future with all smiles is not impossible. A future where you can use your past to know and do better this time.
The community is torn by the news that two teenage boys had died. One is named Daniel, a son to Isaac Balch who just had a divorce and now also suffering from the loss of his son. The other one was named Jonah and he is the second son of Lorrie. She had lost her first son when it was still a baby and now lost her second son from committing suicide. Isaac and Lorie is both a single parent, they live not too far from each other, and the last thing that they had in common was they are both numb and lost for losing their love ones. Along came a girl at Isaac`s doorstep, Evangeline McKensey, a sixteen years old girl, homeless, and pregnant. Isaac eventually needs the help of Lorrie for he can not handle this on his own. Thus the start of the relationship of those three that they did not see coming. All three had a past that is somewhat connected and a possibility that they can also share the future with each other.
Life is the usual one that taught and show us things but this time it was a book. a book that shows us life is fair for it is unfair to all of us in different ways. But also taught us to be tough for there is always a brighter tomorrow.
What can I only say is “Read it!!” you won`t regret picking this book up. it might open some old wounds but it will also heal them for you to use. What an amazing creation amidst this pandemic the world is suffering from.
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#whatcomesafter #joannetompkins #netgalley #penguingroup well. We are thrust in to the lives of Daniel. Jonah. And. Red. The dynamic of this book is a strange one. Daniels parents are recently divorced. His #Quaker father believes in silence to talk to the divine. No abs mother a victim of domestic abuse and a father who completed suicide in front of his family. Then there’s the girl they call Red. Whose mother has abandoned her. Definitely an interesting thought provoking read. #bookstagram #readersofinstagram #booklover #readmorebooks #netgalleyreview
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Unraveling the aftermath of a violent encounter and the families it tears apart, What Comes After is a memorable debut from JoAnne Tompkins. 

Set in small town Washington, a community is devastated by the deaths of two boys, childhood friends whose violent end is the source of confusion to their families. When a mysterious teenage girl appears soon after and embeds herself in the community, it becomes clear that the boys were not the only ones with secrets they hid. 

The story touches many contemporary tropes of family dramas, but does so appropriately. The character of Isaac was my favorite - a gentle, quiet Quaker father who seems to have lost everything but his aging, droopy dog, he walks through the tragedy of his son's death with a unique set of supporting characters, and arrives on the other side a fully-developed and deeply moving figure. I found Evangeline and Lorrie to be lacking the same deep layers, but appreciated them nonetheless. 

Great for fans of "Long Bright River" or Jodi Picoult's small town-set family dramas, What Comes After gets four stars from me.
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This book will rip your heart out and throw it on the floor. It’s so tragic and gripping and real. You will cry and feel sorry for the characters.
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Rating: 4.5*
This was my first book by JoAnne Tompkins and I really enjoyed. 

This book hooked me from the first pages and I couldn’t stop until the end. The mystery surrounding the death of the two young boys was a really good way to start, it keep me interested the entire book and also the mystery around Evangeline. 

But the book spins not only around the mystery but also around the emotions of people and very complex dilemmas.

A really great book. I hope to read more by JoAnne Tompkins very soon. 

Thank you Net Galley and Penguin Random House International for the free ebook.
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This is my first book by JoAnne Tompkins but def won't be my last! JoAnne's writing and story telling hooked me early and kept my attention through out. What Comes After was a complete rollercoaster that kept my guessing and when I thought I had figured it all out JoAnne threw major curve balls. I love that when I am reading thrillers!
I can not wait to read more from JoAnne Tompkins!
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Part Lovely Bones. Part mystery. Part small-town drama. I was pulled in and swept along by the story of what happens to the parents and town after two young boys die. Evangeline is a young pregnant girl who joins Isaac's home after his son is murdered by his friend- the friend then kills himself. How do parents recover (or not) after that tragedy. And how do they find the strength to bring in and care for Evangeline after she comes into their lives. The book is less a mystery and more an examination of the human spirit. I enjoyed the character Tompkins created, but I didn't like the chapters from "Jonah's ghost" as they felt unnecessary and inconsistent. That is why I gave this book a 3 star.

Thanks to #NetGalley for the ARC. #WhatComesAfter
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to review this book.

This novel centers on what happens after death as an overarching theme, but not only in the guise of grief. It's a novel that makes us question how well we really know those we love, and how people can hide pieces of themselves to fit a narrative. The book is dark, sad, and complex. 

I will say there were points where the novel dragged on a bit. I felt it could have been fine tuned a little more, but overall, the book is a solid effort.
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I hadn't read anything by JoAnne Tompkins before this book, and will definitely read more.  This story is fast paced and draws the reader in.  The characters are all struggling with different aspects of life, but find that leaning on each other can help find a way through.
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Wowza, what a book!  One that is not only a great thrill feast, full of chills, twist and turns, and shocks, but also a complete emotional roller coaster!  The character development in this book is stunning, so it makes you absolutely hooked, vested, and unable to put it down!  I cannot even explain the way this author drove into my emotions, but must say that I think it’s a must read!  I highly highly recommend this book!  

Will make sure to buzz around and use low Amazon reviewer number on release date!
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Wow. Just wow. This book WRECKED me in the best way. I was crying the whole last 50 pages. It’s so beautifully written and the story is told so intricately. The only thing I was expecting by the end was not included was Evangeline revealing that Daniel raped her. I thought that would have come out in one of her fights with Isaac or during a conversation with Lorrie. But for especially for a debut, this was INCREDIBLY well done.
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WHAT COMES AFTER  is a beautiful, heartbreaking novel about parenthood, adolescence, harsh realities and how we save each other.  I found it deeply moving and inspiring and highly recommend it.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Riverhead Books for gifting me a digital ARC of the debut novel by JoAnne Tompkins - 5 glowing stars!

Two families are grieving - Isaac is mourning the loss of his teenage son, Daniel, and next-door neighbor, Lorrie, is also mourning the death of her son, Jonah.  While their sons' deaths are connected, Isaac and Lorrie are now worlds apart.  Into this grief stumbles Evangeline, a pregnant teenage girl who appears at Isaac's door.  She has connections to both boys that she is keeping to herself.  All three must first come to grips with their pasts before moving forward.

What an amazing debut - this book will have you in shreds at the same time as it will lift you up with all that is good in humanity.  You will feel so much emotion for each character and their story.  I loved Isaac's Quaker faith and the power of silence in this so very loud world.  I also loved delving into the acceptance of the reality of our children and our role in that.  "Every mother screws up her children one way or another. It's up to you whether you stay that way."  And just wait until you meet Rufus!  This would be the perfect book club book because there are so many topics - faith, grief, abuse, hope, kindness, family.   Such a powerful book - do not miss this one!  Bravo to all involved and I'll definitely be looking for more from this author.
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2.5, Rounding up. I wanted to like this book, but it was not for me. I had to struggle through the last 100 pages, it just made me so sad. Evangeline’s story broke my heart. Her resilience was beyond.  I found the writing was beautiful and strong. This book was just not for me.
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