Fiction 2021 | 419 pages
Two teenage boys die tragically. Daniel is killed by his best friend Jonah, who later kills himself. Two families are torn apart. There is grief and shock in this small coastal town in Washington. And then a teenage girl, house-less and pregnant, abandoned by her mother, emerges from the woods and is taken in by Daniel’s father, Isaac. Yes, Evangeline knew these boys in the last two weeks of their lives.
This is Evangeline’s story. How difficult it is to trust, to maybe accept love, to give compassion. She is “fiery in hair and spirit” ... a red headed enigma. And she is about to have a baby and, for the first time in months, perhaps a roof over her head. We experience Isaac’s grief, as well as the complicated grief of Jonah’s mother, Lorrie, and Jonah’s sister Nells. We witness resiliency, confusion, sorrow, miscommunication, deep communication, love. Amazingly, we can see into the souls of the two adults, especially Isaac, as well as 16-year-old Evangeline. There are also some very interesting minor stories, like Isaac’s best friend Peter, and the role of Quakers in the lives of the characters.
What Comes After is powerful and engrossing. It is very emotion-centric. Why I mean by that is we are privileged to observe the feelings and depth of the characters. Nothing is shied away from.
This is Thompkins’ first novel, and it is astounding. Well written, but also the most interesting plot I have read in a long time. No surprise, I recommend What Comes After wholeheartedly and enthusiastically!