After Iris by Natasha Farrant

After IrisThere is so much that I love about this book that I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll start with the publisher‘s description:  

An unforgettable middle-grade debut that will steal your heart…

Blue Gadsby’s twin sister, Iris, died three years ago and her family has never been the same. Her histrionic older sister, Flora, changes her hair color daily; her younger siblings, Jasmine and Twig, are completely obsessed with their pet rats; and both of her parents spend weeks away from home–and each other. Enter Zoran the Bosnian male au pair and Joss the troublemaking boy next door, and life for the Gadsby family takes a turn for the even more chaotic. Blue poignantly captures her family’s trials and tribulations from fragmented to fully dysfunctional to ultimately reunited, in a sequence of film transcripts and diary entries that will make you cry, laugh, and give thanks for the gift of families.

With the charm of The Penderwicks and the poignancy of When You Reach Me, Natasha Farrant’s After Iris is a story that will stay with readers long after the last page.

My impression: Considering that this story is, in part, about Blue dealing with the death of her twin sister, Iris, this is not a maudlin tale. I laughed out loud more than once and was charmed countless times by Blue’s honest observations about her crazy (albeit lovable) family and life in general. The story is set in England, yet still feels accessible to American readers.

As a school librarian, I take advantage of the summer months to catch up on reading; I usually go straight from the last page of one book to first page of the next in the same day. But after I reached the last page of After Iris, I didn’t want to jump into the next book quite yet; I wanted time to linger in Blue’s world and reflect on her story before moving on to another.

After Iris is one of my favorite reads of 2013.

Hand this book to the kid who:

* has a twin or a close sibling

* enjoys books with a diary or journal format

* is interested in the art of film or making videos

* has been separated from a parent due to the parent’s job, a divorce, etc.

Use this to teach:

Format–Told in diary entries and Blue’s home-movie film transcripts, the story unfolds in an unconventional way. The story’s format will spark good discussion about why the author may have chose to tell Blue’s story in this way. Of particular note is the metaphoric  last scene when the camera is turned on Blue  for the very first time.

* Coping Strategies--Blue not only has to deal with missing her twin sister, Iris, but also with her first broken heart in love and fear of her parents’ divorce. The various ways in which Blue’s family members each deal with Iris’ death also merit discussion and analysis.

The Nitty Gritty~

Click  here for reviews.

Author’s website here.

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: July 2013

ISBN-10: 0803739826

ISBN-13: 978-0803739826

Number of Pages: 272

Interest Level: Ages 10 and up

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.


16 responses to “After Iris by Natasha Farrant

  1. Adding this to my TBR list now. Sounds like a great one.

  2. Thanks for the review, I was really curious about this book!

  3. Sounds good, but I’m not so sure about sharing this with those who have a twin-maybe too anxiety creating? Since I haven’t read the book, I’m just not sure. Thanks for sharing.

    • I hadn’t thought of that, Linda–good point. One good thing is that readers will know up front (from the book flap copy) that Blue’s twin sister Iris died a few years before the start of the book, so the reader can decide from there. I suppose if it were a plot twist, that would be worse, and a reader could feel blindsided. Thanks for the food for thought, Linda!

  4. Natalie, I look forward to your well constructed reviews each week. They are presented in the perfect format to be useful for librarians. Well, you would know.

    My daughters are identical twins and they have a love/hate/can’t live without each other relationship. I cannot bear the thought of one of them losing the other. It is a wonderful closeness that cannot be understand by us singletons.

    • Thanks, Julee–glad my posts are helpful to you!

      I’ve had twins in my classroom before and one set of twins who are second cousins, but have never had twins in my immediate family. It must be a unique relationship–especially, I’d imagine, between identical twins. There aren’t too many middle grade books out there from the perspective of one twin (or two, for that matter). Maybe you and your daughters should write one! 🙂

  5. The cover, alone, would have sucked me into this book. Thanks for sharing about it. I hadn’t heard about it, so your review really helped!

  6. Hmm. As a mother of twins (boy/girl) and a sister of twins (girl/girl), I wonder if I would find this too emotional. Twin connections are everywhere I look! But from your description, it sounds like there is a lot of humour as well. Sounds like it it a book that explores the grieving process. That is always important as it is so personal and complicated.

    • Good point, Carrie! Julee (above) said the same thing. I will say that Blue’s grief is not palpable until the very end, when her whole family is forced to come to terms with how they’ve all been dealing with Iris’ death. There are many, many light moments, though–they far outweigh the sad ones. I’d be interested in hearing what a twin would have to say about the book. Thanks for chiming in!

  7. Sounds like a moving book. I am familiar with the Penderwicks though I haven’t read it yet (I own a copy that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet). Your review makes me want to pick this up right away. And I agree with Ricki, the cover looks inviting.

    • Thanks, Myra–I do think you’ll enjoy both The Penderwicks and After Iris. Lots of layers in both to mull over. I left both books wanting to linger a bit more with the characters–that’s how real they felt.

  8. Oh, oh, oh! I love how you include “Hand this book to the kid who” in your reviews. Going to follow your blog now 🙂

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