What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins is a powerfully told story that you will easily get wrapped up in. This is not a story that dwells on a gruesome murder, tragedy and unanswered questions that pushes us to turn the pages. Instead, “What Comes After” is definitely what it says it is, a cautious weaving together of the numerous little moments and thoughts and associations that can heel us after tragedy.
Even though the major plot points are available in the description. What Comes After is a rich, moving, and perfectly written story. Story that deep dive into some flawed and damaged characters. Although it is set against the backdrop of a suicide or murder. It’s important to take note of, this is not actually a murder mystery or a suspense thriller. After all, Tompkins tells you in the initial few pages precisely what occurred and who did what.
What makes this novel a convincing page-turner is that it gradually unravels each character. There intentions and action both small and large. Tompkins explores the hypocrisy, stubbornness, and defence mechanism that the characters battle with, and large numbers of us may relate to, where they know better however miss the mark regarding being better at the time.
What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins is told in three character’s perspectives in interlocking segments. Each segment peels back a layer on who that character is, how they got there, and what they will do (or not do) about it.
Evangeline, is a pregnant young girl, forced to grow up quickly. She is tough from outside, and does not trust people and lacks self-esteem. Her pregnancy motivates her to discover an exit plan.
Isaac is the unemotional father of the killed teen, will fully ignorant about his loved ones and in denial about himself. He is forced to look into his spirit and face his facts and his sentiments about his friends, family, confidence, and self.
Jonah is the boy who commits suicide. His point of view is so delicate, vulnerable, and raw. His is the most painful character to read. In his mind, he sees his brokenness. He is driven by fear and love and the need to guard others from the beast in his mind.
These characters as well as many others are complex. The author touches on themes of betrayal, abuse, abandonment, belonging, self-worth, security, acceptance, trust, spirituality, purpose, and choosing life. What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins also offered interesting insight into the Quaker faith. After reading it, I needed to take a few days to process my range of emotions. Be ready, this book will take you there.