Cover Image: What Comes After

What Comes After

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Member Reviews

I never saw this coming. This book has left me speechless and for all the right reasons. I have never read anything from JoAnne Tompkins but I am quite impressed and can't wait to read more.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Evangeline survived a horrific childhood only to be abandoned by her mother as a teenager.   She fends for herself in the only ways she knows how and in her struggles meets two friends.   Their rivalry over her affections comes to a disastrous end.  Alone, Evangeline reaches out to the father of one of the boys.  The relationship that develops between them creates a familial bond that saves them both.  Add to their burgeoning father/daughter bond, the love of a wonderful dog, and an expanding circle of family built on forgiveness and acceptance.
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This definitely kept me glued to the page. There were a few moments where the teenage characters didn't feel real to me, but for a debut, I can forgive those few issues.
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This novel started out really strong, but I ultimately couldn't connect with any of the characters and wasn't compelled by the story.
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Firstly, this is categories as a Mystery/Thriller, and I just want to clarify that while at it’s core this is a murder mystery, it’s more the motive behind the murder than a whodunnit. I also would never categorize this book as a Thriller. Going into this book with expectations of a fast paced, thriller will ruin this story for you. With that said, I loved this book. Thompkins had me wrapped up in this story from the very first pages.

A murder/suicide of two boys in a small Pacific Northwest town, has left a path of grief and questions in it’s wake. Recently divorced Isaac, is struggling with the murder of his son Daniel. Lorrie, his next door neighbor, is struggling to fully comprehend that her son Jonah, not only murdered his best friend, Daniel, but unable to cope with his deeds commits suicide. The grief of these two households is palpable until Evangeline, a homeless teenage girl, shows up and reminds the living they have to keep living.

Told in alternating perspectives, Evangeline’s story line really stands out. Abandoned by her mother, she craves a family or even just a friend. Living on the streets has taught Evangeline to be weary of those she meets and who she can trust, and her narrative fully captures her will to survive but also the anger boiling beneath the surface. Tompkins has wonderfully portrayed an teenage girl in turmoil, while reminder the reader that 15 is such a young age to be on your own.

We also see from Isaac’s perspective. Isaac is the opposite of Evangeline. With a deep Quaker faith, he is stoic and uses silence to speak instead of words. Isaac was the most frustrating but also extremely interesting character for me. I really enjoyed getting to learn more about the Quaker faith but also getting to watch his relationships change and grown through the book was a joy.

Our last perspective is from Jonah’s perspective and while a little unsettling, sheds a light on the struggle of mental illness and also blurs the lines of what we, as a society consider to be ‘evil’.

Now my favorite character did not have a point of view because well he’s a dog. But Rufus, Isaac’s dog, is a shining light in this book. Filled with raw emotion, Tompkins has clearing created one of the most genuinely kind souls. All of the character’s emotions could be seen through Rufus’ actions, and honestly I’m a sucker for a good dog character.

As a judicial officer and mediator, Tompkins has completely and utterly ‘nailed it’. Her complete understanding of spiritual health, resiliency, grief, forgiveness, and all around human emotions was impeccable. I know this book is classified as a mystery, and while there is a sort of mystery within these pages, this is much more a contemporary fiction that explores the depth of human interactions.

This book is perfect for fans of Jane Harper’s slow burn mysteries. All the stars for this beautiful portrayal of human interaction.

What Comes After comes out April 13, 2021.   Thank you to Riverhead books for my advanced copy for my honest review. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.
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"What Comes After offers an unforgettable story of loss and anger, but also of kindness and hope, courage and forgiveness. "

An okay read. The 'mystery' aspect is solved early on in the story and the balance of the book is dealing with the aftermath of it and Evangeline’s teen-age pregnancy.

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*Thank you to NetGalley, Joanne Tompkins and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review*
Previously posted at

Occasionally, a book comes along that overpowers you and makes you think about things in a way you haven’t in the past. Things such as homelessness, teen pregnancy, and the complicated relations of families and neighbors. What Comes After is this book.

Evangeline has moved to the small Washington town of Port Furlong with her mother. They live in a double-wide on the edge of town. When her mom decides she has had enough, she leaves $200 for her daughter and leaves town. Within a few weeks, Evangeline is homeless and pregnant, having met two boys in a park previously. When she reads about their murder/suicide and finds out that the father of one of the boys is living alone with his dog, she comes up with a plan. Isaac Balch is grieving both the death of his son, Daniel, and the departure of his wife, who had left him nine months before for the man she had an affair with. Lorrie, Isaac’s next-door neighbor, is grieving the loss of her son, Jonah, accused of the murder of Daniel, his best friend.

Shortly after Jonah and Daniel’s deaths, Evangeline is found sleeping outside of the Balch house by their dog, Rufus. Isaac invites her to stay, not knowing her association with his dead son. As Evangeline grows and thrives under Isaac’s care, she makes a strong connection with Lorrie, but Lorrie and Isaac cannot find a way to each other. As secrets come out about her relationship with both boys, Evangeline is worried about losing everything she has fought for, including her home with Isaac.

What Comes After draws you in from the first page. As the reader gets bits and pieces about what really happened to Jonah and Daniel, we savor all the details until the shocking conclusion. All the characters are well developed and relatable in a way I don’t see very often. The book alternates points of view between Isaac, Jonah, Lorrie, and Evangeline. The dog, Rufus, is also very prominent in the story, as a dog who knows things.

Warning: there are some very sensitive topics in this book including rape, animal death, teen pregnancy, and suicide. The author’s portrayal of loss is spot on. It helped the reader connect with each of the characters, all experiencing very real losses.

Religion, particularly the Quaker faith, is prominent in the book. Isaac has been a Quaker all his life and how he grieves is very connected to the Quaker faith. As a reader, I am not normally attracted to religious books, but it was fascinating to learn about the Quakers and their silence and other aspects of their religion. What Comes After is literature and mystery, a bit of supernatural and religion woven into an amazing essay on our times.
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I did not finish this book. I found it very depressing.  I did not like the characters because I found no redeeming qualities that made me want to continue reading.
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Overwritten. There's some heartwarming found-family stuff but it mostly falls flat. Evangeline's chapters are written in the most engaging voice, but Isaac's is distractingly florid.
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Wow I absolutely loved this book!

Official release is April 13th and I think everyone will be talking about it.

The story is about what happens after two high school boys are found dead. A mysterious girl shows up in town around the same time. The boys’ two grieving families are hopeful she holds some of the answers to this tragedy.

The writing in this- So good!! So many passages I had to go back to and appreciate. This didn’t feel like a typical thriller, but I still couldn’t put it down. I gave it 4.5 out of 5.

Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review!
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Lately, I have had a hard time finding a book that grabbed my interest right away and actually kept it long enough to get into the story.  But What Comes After had me wanting to keep reading, not only because I had to know what really happened and how the story ends, but also because JoAnne Tompkins has such a way with her writing that somehow results in this story that is haunting, yet also beautiful, despite the fact that it is told around the deaths of the two young boys. This book was an emotional one, that will probably stay on your mind for days after you finish reading it, but definitely worth reading!
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REVIEW: What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins

Thank you to @netgalley @riverheadbooks and JoAnne Tompkins for this advanced copy of WHAT COMES AFTER in exchange for an honest review. 

Wow, what an amazing story. Make sure you have some tissues on hand because certain parts of this book definitely made my eyes a little misty. WHAT COMES AFTER touches on incredible tragedy, forgiveness, and family. It was a quick read for me because I loved the mystery element that was tied in with this contemporary fiction, it definitely made the read more intriguing and unputdownable. The characters are all in a morally-grey range (which I always love in a book) and all of them make you think. 

If you’re a fan of contemporary fiction, mysteries, tragedies, and family as central themes in books then you will love WHAT COMES AFTER! Just be mindful, there are MANY triggers in this book, see my content warnings at the end of this review. 

WHAT COMES AFTER comes out April 13th, 2021! 

CW: Sexual assault, suicide, animal death, infidelity, domestic abuse, child neglect/abuse
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Many thanks to Riverhead Books and NetGalley for the advanced copy!

I was a bit disappointed by this book. Two neighbors in a small town are dealing with the death of their sons in a murder-suicide and trying to understand why it happened. A young pregnant girl comes into their lives and the story unfolds. I did not really connect with the characters, aside from Rufus, but his story nearly caused me to stop reading. I also could have done without a lot of the religious parts. Overall, it was a very slow, character development heavy novel.
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Heart wrenching a book that grabbed me from the first pages.Two teenage boys die a mysterious pregnant girl appears a story that kept me guessing.Mystery life emotional will keep you guessing .#netgalley#riverheadbooks
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This book read like a slow burning mystery. I was intrigued by the first few pages and wanted to know what happened to the boys. Unfortunately it just started to drag out, and I really didn’t care for the characters.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Riverhead Books for the ebook. This is a wonderful, epic of a book that starts off with unimaginable pain and loss and builds to forgiveness and love. Issac has lost his wife to another man and now lost his son in a tragic way. His neighbor Lorrie has lost her son and she is trying to change her life and create stability for her young daughter. Sixteen year old Evangeline enters their world pregnant and with a possible connection to their lost sons. This book doesn’t cut corners to get to where it wants to take you, but builds the story chapter by chapter and by the end it moves you much more than you ever thought these three broken souls ever could.
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I was interested in the beginning of the book. A pregnant girl and two boys dead. Two friends. One killed the other and then committed suicide. I kept reading to have my questions answered. About half way through the story ran out of gas, I didn’t really like any of the characters except the dog, Rufus. But I almost didn’t finish it after what happened to Rufus. To make a dog suffer unnecessarily is unconscionable. I finished the book but this was a huge miss form,e..
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Well, damn. For the first third, I liked it well enough. Second third, I was starting to really love the nuance and complexity of the characters. Final third? Sobbed my way through. It’s long, but I urge you to stick it out, if only for one chapter about Rufus that I will not discuss but if you know, you know. This isn’t mystery or suspense— it’s character study that happens to begin with an act of violence but isn’t about that particular act at all. It’s about silence and trust and family and forgiveness and the impossibility of forgiveness... and it’s about Rufus. If nothing else, read the book for Rufus.
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What Comes After is a novel by Joanne Tompkins set in in the Pacific Northwest about two neighboring families who have tragically lost their sons.  This well-written debut mystery discusses the repercussions of these horrific events through the eyes of their families and community.  Matters get even more complicated with the appearance of Evangeline, a mysterious pregnant teenager who happens to have known both young men and needs a place to call home. Tompkins background as family mediator and judicial officer makes her understanding of all the nuances involved in this complicated scenario come alive under her skillful writing and kept me riveted to the story.   Highly recommended.
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While I was initially worried that I might find this novel to be over tragedy-ed (teen pregnancy, abandonment, murder, multiple suicides) I was immediately captivated by the elegant prose and rich characters. Tompkins' characters have flaws and triumphs that are both believable and heart wrenching, and I found myself experiencing the full range of emotions alongside them, from heartache and shame to redemption and love. While this is a more character driven novel, the plot moves along steadily enough to keep you interested without being too jaunty as to detract from the slow boil of tension. The backdrop of Washington nature and the unfinished house leant itself to an eerie undertone, building both the physical and emotional tension. The ending was a poignant cocktail of grief and hope and resiliency, and left me with the notion that we can find joy in life even after the worst of traumas. 

This review will be posted on Goodreads on Feb. 24, 2021.
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