by Judith Hayn
Farrant, N. (2013). After Iris. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers.
Bluebell Gadsby’s twin Iris died three years ago, and Blue feels responsible because she let her extrovert, daredevil sister leave the house without her; Iris never returned. Blue is withdrawn and creative, yet determined to record the family’s quirky day-to-day activities on her video camera. Dad escapes by teaching at a faraway university while Mom globetrots as a high-powered businesswoman leaving the children alone. Blue tries to understand her older sister, the drama queen Flora, along with the younger Babes, Jasmine, and Twig. Zoran, a Bosnian refugee, is hired as the nanny to ride herd on this neglected bunch. Charismatic Joss moves in next door and pays attention to Blue who is immediately smitten; unfortunately, he and Flora fall in love leaving Blue to her camcorder and diary. Grief is complicated, and no one in this family is coping with the loss of Iris, especially Blue who succeeds in being invisible at school and at home. Middlers will root for this sensitive heroine, who tells in first person narrative the story of her chaotic, dysfunctional family as she struggles to find her way from the shadow where she is hiding to a place where healing can begin.
Natasha Farrant is a literary agent for children’s and young adult literature authors in the U.K.; this is her first foray into the genre. If you are interested in reviews of books like this for tweens and teens and also in articles that will help you use them in the classroom, consider joining SIGNAL, the Special Interest Network—Adolescent Literature by clicking on the link below.
Dr. Judith A. Hayn is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
This article is part of a series from the Special Interest Group Network on Adolescent Literature (SIGNAL).