Monday, January 13, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: After Iris

Today’s Pick: After Iris

by Natasha Farrant

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013

From Amazon:

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 Take:

I really enjoy reading books about families and this one was great! The character of Blue and the tragedy of losing her twin sister drew me in. I liked how the author set up some mystery by not explaining the circumstances of her twin’s death until well into the story. At the same time, Blue’s struggles with friends and family were entertaining and heartbreaking. This book had lots of quirky elements (like the pet rats) that were a lot of fun.

The film transcripts and diary entries were used quite effectively by the author. I also really enjoyed the dialogue between the siblings – it seemed natural and appropriate. I got a strong sense of everyone’s personalities. I'd read this book again to study the dialogue and how the author brought out character through details mixed with dialogue.

Opening Line:

“CAMERMAN (BLUEBELL) lingers on pair of feet in frayed canvas All Stars (her own), before panning down stone steps to the garden where FLORA (16, her oldest sibling) is sunbathing in a bikini.”


“My plan is to record my life through words and images. I am using video footage for the images and some spoken words. There are not many spoken words in the video, because usually when people realize I am filming, they stop talking.”

“When I write, nobody can tell me to get lost.”

 “Mum said that she thinks love and hate are similar emotions. She said that both could be passionate and obsessive, and that each could turn into the other very easily.”

Other Info:

Natasha Farrant lives in London and is a literary scout.

On her About Me page, she says: “I get very grumpy if I don’t have a good book to read, if I’m not writing, if I’m hungry, tired or don’t get enough exercise.”

According to her twitter feed @natashafarrant1, there is a sequel to After Iris in the works. Something to look forward to!

Other children’s books by this author:

The Things We Did For Love (YA)

For more info, visit Natasha Farrant’s website.

You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).


  1. I wanted an ARC of this last year but my request was denied. However I'm glad my instinct was spot on. This is a book I will enjoy. Now I just need a copy from the library.
    Thanks for the feature :)

    1. I really got immersed in the story! You should definitely look for it.

  2. Ohhhh! I loved this book, too, and planned to feature it in a few weeks (but may change my mind since you already have). It's one of those stories that has so many levels and gives readers so much to think about -- as well as simply being an entertaining story.

    1. It'd be great to read your take on it too! :)

      I got so emotionally wrapped up with Blue.

  3. Thanks for highlighting this... sounds interesting (and sad) but there is always hope for things to change for the better which it looks like happens in this story. Will have to keep an eye out for it at the library.

  4. Your review and the book cover both intrigued me enough to search this one out for a future read. I love books that after I finish and weeks later see them again on the shelf, their memories still linger.

  5. Oh, I loved The Penderwicks and When You Reach Me, so anything that's a cross between them would be great. Love the quotes!

  6. Sounds like a great read. Thanks for the post!

  7. This sounds wonderful! I love the quotes and the use of movie transcripts. Thanks for bringing my attention to it.


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