A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens kiss passionately in private and in front of their peers. A girl thinks her older sister might be pregnant.
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There's some meanness and name calling but no profanity. Girls call each other "cow."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.