After Iris

 
(i)

 

Moving, entertaining tale of dysfunctional family's turmoil.

What parents need to know

Educational value

After Iris reveals basic information about the war in Bosnia during the 1990s, about classical and popular music, and urban vs. country life in modern England. The kids in the book have pet rats, and their experiences illustrate some facts about pet care and breeding.

Positive messages

The Gadsbys operate at a high volume level, with volatile emotions and loud voices. But the story lets kids know that family members love each other, even when they argue, and a loving family can survive tragedy and struggle.

Positive role models

Zoran, the kids' au pair, offers the most consistent and positive example. He's a steady, loving presence in the house, providing fair, logical boundaries and reinforcing values of family loyalty and the importance of education.

Violence

A child's death, which occurred before the novel begins, figures prominently in the lives and feelings of all of the characters. Late in the novel, during an argument, a girl bumps her head and her face appears bloody. An adult man punches a teen he thinks is responsible for the girl's injury.

Sex

Teens kiss passionately in private and in front of their peers. A girl thinks her older sister might be pregnant.

Language

There's some meanness and name calling but no profanity. Girls call each other "cow."

Consumerism

Kids eat Mars bars and Twix. A child has brand-name remote-control cars: Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Ason Martin. Tweens and teens use Facebook, and they Skype with their parents. The kids watch modern movies such as Twilight.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In one scene, a teen comes home drunk, and then her dad does the same.

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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"?

Book details

Author:Natasha Farrant
Genre:Family Life
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Friendship, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dial Books
Publication date:July 11, 2013
Number of pages:272
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of After Iris was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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