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Publisher's Summary

Named a top beach read of summer by Oprah Daily, Good Housekeeping, The Wall Street Journal, and more

“Nail-biting wallop of a debut...a thoughtful, unexpectedly optimistic tale.” (The New York Times)

“If you enjoyed The Searcher by Tana French, read What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins...a mystery - and a gritty meditation on loss and redemption, drenched in stillness and grief.” (The Washington Post)

After the shocking death of two teenage boys tears apart a community in the Pacific Northwest, a mysterious pregnant girl emerges out of the woods and into the lives of those same boys’ families - a moving and hopeful novel about forgiveness and human connection.

In misty, coastal Washington State, Isaac lives alone with his dog, grieving the recent death of his teenage son, Daniel. Next door, Lorrie, a working single mother, struggles with a heinous act committed by her own teenage son. Separated by only a silvery stretch of trees, the two parents are emotionally stranded, isolated by their great losses - until an unfamiliar 16-year-old girl shows up, bridges the gap, and changes everything.

Evangeline’s arrival at first feels like a blessing, but she is also clearly hiding something. When Isaac, who has retreated into his Quaker faith, isn’t equipped to handle her alone, Lorrie forges her own relationship with the girl. Soon all three characters are forced to examine what really happened in their overlapping pasts, and what it all possibly means for a shared future.

With a propulsive mystery at its core, What Comes After offers an unforgettable story of loss and anger, but also of kindness and hope, courage and forgiveness. It is a deeply moving account of strangers and friends not only helping each other forward after tragedy but inspiring a new kind of family.

©2021 JoAnne Tompkins (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

Named a Best New Book of the Spring by Parade, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, and more!

“Gripping.... What Comes After juxtaposes the often brutal natural world, with its crepuscular woods, twisty paths, and wild creatures, and the 'civilized' world, with its own dark places and feral inhabitants. Ms. Tompkins’ understanding of both is palpable. So is her compassion.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“If you enjoyed The Searcher by Tana French, read What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins...a mystery - and a gritty meditation on loss and redemption, drenched in stillness and grief.” (The Washington Post)

“Nail-biting wallop of a debut novel.... Tompkins delivers a thoughtful, unexpectedly optimistic tale.” (The New York Times)

“Atmospheric, propulsive...a grieving community grapples with two slain teenaged boys and the young pregnant girl who may hold the key to the their tragic fates. An American Tana French, Tompkins is a writer to watch.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)

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What listeners say about What Comes After

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

my first 5 star in a long while

I almost didn't buy this because of the spoiler left by another reader. But it still gripped me. Hope to see more from this author.

6 people found this helpful

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  • BK
  • 07-02-21

Very well done.

I went into this thinking it a mystery. It isn't -- or at least not THAT kind of mystery. We learn who-did-it early on, so the mystery shifts over to the Why and How people react, and those questions are played out with emotion and intelligence. The characters are complex : sometimes they're likeable, sometimes not, but I take that to be evidence that they are not cardboard cutouts but real people. The very end put me off just a bit, but that was entirely on me. The end was true to the characters. I think the author will be someone we'll hear great things about again.

Excellent performances by all three readers.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Thin story line, too long.

A little too much about God, and story is pretty thin. Internal dialogue Is predictable.

3 people found this helpful

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First Novels are Always the Best

I truly loved it. Well written; great story;well told. I will give the author another chance in the future.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Pretty good

I enjoyed the book but also feel it slowed down a lot after the first half. Kind of repetitive in regard to some ideas. Hard to describe without giving spoilers! I did love the writer’s description of Rufus the dog. An incredible character and easily my favorite in the book! I didn’t love the reading job for Jonah. I just didn’t feel the voice matched the character. Evangeline’s seemed pretty fitting though.

3 people found this helpful

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Just read the book

Such a beautifully written book. I couldn’t put it down. A little sad I’m finished reading it.

3 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written and narrated

I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this book. The story was compelling and mysterious. The characters were believable and authentic. There were moments that were certainly sad but I found the overall theme to be joy. Joy found even in the midst of trauma and grief. I highly recommend and give congrats to the author on a beautiful debut novel.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not a mystery

The critic reviews and summary made it sound like a real mystery. It wasn’t. It’s not suspenseful. I kept noticing details that could be part of a mystery but then they weren’t developed. They were just...there. The male voice reading was just ok but when he had to fill in a woman’s voice it was annoying to me.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing ending

This book reads like so many mysteries. I was waiting for the twist ending with bated breath, considering possible outcomes. But then it just peters out and ends. This book is not a mystery or thriller. It’s just a story; enjoyable but lacking in plot. The side stories go literally nowhere.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Full of twists and turns

Very good story. Strong characters you can care about. I just thought it ended too abruptly.

2 people found this helpful