A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Natasha Farrant's After Iris concerns the feelings of a British family coping with a devastating loss, while they also deal with absentee parents, a new au pair, and typical teen/tween emotions and changes. Information about a death is gradually revealed. Parents' commitment to career vs. family is a strong theme; kids are exposed to parents' arguments and they fear their parents will divorce. There are also a couple of incidents of bullying at their London school; kids pull a chair out from under another girl, and other kids retaliate by preying upon a girl's fears to humiliate her. An argument turns violent when a girl bumps her head; her face is "covered with blood," and her dad punches a teen he thinks is responsible. In another scene, a teen comes home drunk, and then so does her dad. There's generally a lot of arguing and raised voices, but loads of caring and affection, too.
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What's the story?
The Gadsby family of London is in constant turmoil over absentee parents, kids adjusting to a new au pair, and teen Flora's frequent fits. Meanwhile, quiet Bluebell is alternately bullied and ignored at school, and finds it easier to view life from the other side of a video camera. Then a teen boy, Joss Bateman, moves in with the Gadsby's elderly neighbors (his grandparents) and maneuvers his way into the Gadsby kids' life. He becomes Blue's protector, but she feels betrayed when he begins a romantic relationship with Flora. As Christmastime approaches, details are revealed about the loss that makes the holidays so charged for the Gadsbys, and their struggles and relationships reach a fever pitch.
Is it any good?
In AFTER IRIS, Natasha Farrant does a terrific job of portraying the different needs and behaviors of kids at different ages, and raising modern family issues without preaching. There are no easy answers to the very tough problems they're trying to solve. All the while, as in real family life, there are plenty of warm and funny moments, disappointments, misunderstandings and surprises. It's a highly entertaining family story that addresses troubles big and small.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the issue of the parents frequently being absent in After Iris. Do you think one parent is more at fault than the other? How should they solve this problem?
When the kids visit their grandma in the country, they're not supposed to use electronics. Do you agree that it's a good idea to take a break from Facebook, etc. now and then?
Blue's films offer a special perspective on what happens in her family. If you have the technology, try making some little films of your own. What's different about seeing a film of something rather than being "in the moment"?
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