Natasha Farrant After Iris

ISBN 13: 9780142426913

After Iris

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9780142426913: After Iris

An unforgettable middle-grade debut that will steal your heart

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.

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About the Author:

Natasha Farrant is a literary scout specializing in children’s and young adult literature, and she has published three novels in the United Kingdom. This is her debut middle grade and her first book published in the United States.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ZORAN

I had to run to keep up with her. I don’t know when she got so tall. “It’s humiliating,” she raged as we walked. “He treats us like a bunch of kids.”

“We are a bunch of kids,” I said, then because that only made her crosser I added, “He’s quite useful. You know, with the Babes, and the parents away so much.”

Flora shot me one of her sideways Flora looks. “I suppose you like him.”

I thought about Zoran making hot chocolate for us, putting double the amount of powder in Jas’s because that’s how she likes it, and about how he sat working on his thesis in the rain when it was his turn to watch the rats.

“I don’t like his beard,” I said. “But I do think he’s nice.”

“That,” said Flora, “is just typical.”

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AFTER IRIS

Being a combination of conventional diary entries and transcripts of short films shot by the author on the camera she was given for her twelfth birthday.

LONDON

The Film Diaries Of Bluebell Gadsby
SCENE ONE (transcript)
Another Perfect Day In Paradise

DAYTIME. THE GADSBY FAMILY HOME. GARDEN.

CAMERAMAN (BLUEBELL) lingers on a 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. Spread around her are her iPod, her mobile, a bottle of suntan lotion, a bottle of water, and several magazines. She is reading a book.

Pan right, following the sound of squealing, to where younger siblings JASMINE (8) and TWIG (10) are playing on the swing under the plane tree. Jasmine falls. Twig whoops. Jasmine howls. Blood pours from her split lip, staining her torn pink dress. Twig—no longer whooping—runs toward the house. Pan left, back to Flora turning up the volume on her iPod, then indoors to kitchen. Picture shakes as cameraman (still Blue) plucks a tea towel from the cooker. Back outdoors to close-up of Jasmine’s blood-smeared face. Picture is inverted as cameraman applies the tea towel to Jasmine’s lip.

JASMINE

Agh! Agh!! Agh!!!

 

TWIG

It’s not my fault! It’s not my fault!

 

FLORA

I AM TRYING TO LISTEN TO MY MUSIC!

 

Friday, August 26 (Morning)

Flora heard something in the kitchen this morning and said it wasn’t fair to make her go down alone.

“Just because I am the oldest,” Flora said, “does not mean I have to be the first to die.”

So we grabbed what we could, which was a cricket bat for Twig, tennis rackets for Jas and me, and the big oar Dad got in Oxford with all his boat crew’s names on it for Flora. For a family that never plays sport we have an awful lot of equipment. Jas said Dad would kill Flora if she broke the oar, and Flora said she’d remember that when her entire family had been murdered because she hadn’t been properly armed. But in the end we didn’t need to hit the burglar, because when we got to the kitchen he turned out to be Zoran, and even though we didn’t know yet that it was him, he was wearing a flowery apron and sandals and a little goatee that made him look like Mr. Tumnus in Narnia, who everybody knows was on the right side in the end, even if he did have his moments.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” demanded Flora.

“I am your new babysitter,” said Zoran.

“A babysitter!” cried Flora. “But why?”

Zoran gave Jas what Dad calls a laden look, and she bit her lip so we couldn’t see the stitches they gave her at the hospital.

“Your mother called me last night,” said Zoran. “She was worried.”

“But how does she even know you?” asked Flora.

We all stared at him. It seemed so unlikely that Mum would know someone like Zoran.

“Through your father,” said Zoran.

“Ah,” said Flora.

And that was that. Zoran didn’t elaborate and we didn’t ask.

“Let’s tidy up, shall we?” he said instead. “Then we can all have breakfast.”

His shoulders drooped a bit when he said the tidying up bit and looking around the kitchen, I have to say I could see why. Flora keeps her room tidy but treats the rest of the house like a squat. The rest of us just squat.

“Does anybody do the dishes?” Zoran gazed up at the ceiling when he said that, like God might actually care.

“They’re only last night’s,” said Flora.

Zoran smirked as he picked up a stack of plates. I could have warned him, but I didn’t. He took one step backward, landed on Twig’s remote-controlled Aston Martin DB2/4 Competition Spider, and vanished in a crash of china.


------------------------------

Zoran announced he had concussion. The Babes (aka Twig and Jas) sat cross-legged at his feet and cut bandages out of a sheet they found in the washing machine, which Flora wound around his head while they explained about the Aston Martin.

“They’re for the rats,” said Jas. “We have three. White, with pink eyes.”

“We use Daddy’s ties to strap them in, and then we race them,” said Twig. “We’ve got lots of different models. The Spider’s mine but it’s okay because you didn’t damage it.”

“I’ve got a Jag XK120,” said Jas. “The rats love it, they really do.”

“There!” Flora stopped winding and turned Zoran toward the mirror.

Zoran gasped. Jas started to cry because laughing stretched her stitches. Twig snorted so hard snot came out of his nose.

“Oh my God!” cried Zoran. “I look like an Egyptian mummy!”

“You said you were concussed!” protested Flora.

Zoran looked cross but Flora gave him her scrunched-up nose grin, the one that makes her look like she’s about ten years old instead of sixteen. Nobody can ever resist that grin.

“Thank you for rescuing me,” Zoran grumbled.

Flora started to laugh then, too, and then they were all laughing, except Zoran laughed less than the others.

“I wish I’d filmed this,” I said.

They all stared at me.

“You spoke!” said Zoran. “I was wondering if you knew how.”

He was standing up now and the Babes walked around and around him with a roll of toilet paper, finishing off the process Flora had started on his head. That would have made a good film, too, but what I wanted to get—what I was cross I’d missed—was that look between him and Flora, when she said she thought he was concussed and he said he looked like an Egyptian mummy.

She grinned and he melted.

That was when I knew we had nothing to fear from him.

The Film Diaries Of Bluebell Gadsby
SCENE TWO (transcript)
Mother and Daughter

DAY. THE GADSBY GARDEN.

The garden again, this time seen from above through the branches of the plane tree. MOTHER, barefoot but otherwise still dressed for work, is harvesting a lavender bush with a pair of rusty shears. When all the stalks are cut, she crouches to gather them into a waiting basket. She buries her face in her hands, and her shoulders relax as she inhales the scent of the flowers.

FLORA, also barefoot but in denim cutoffs, appears on the stone veranda at the top of the steps. Sound does not reach the camera, but it is obvious she is annoyed. Mother takes a step toward her, then stops to pick a stalk from her basket. She runs her index and thumb along the stem to strip it of its petals, which she crushes in her fist. She inhales again, then opens her hand and holds it out before her. The breeze scatters the petals. Mother squares her shoulders and turns toward her angry daughter.

Picture fades to black as CAMERAMAN (BLUE) turns camera off to climb back down to the ground.

Friday, August 26 (Afternoon)

“He’s weird,” announced Flora, back in the kitchen.

“He used to be a student of your father’s. He’s doing his doctorate in medieval literature, and he is a very nice young man.” Mum had put her shoes back on, the Louboutin pumps with the red soles, which make her look like she is taller than Flora.

They couldn’t see me where I was standing just outside the door. Mum looked tiny through the camera, but I could see her hand clenching and unclenching like it often does when she is fighting with Flora.

“We don’t even need a babysitter,” shouted Flora. “I’m sixteen! In some countries I’d be married.”

“He is not a babysitter, he is an au pair. And you are not in some countries.

Flora looked stormy and didn’t say anything. Mum reached out to touch her, but she stepped away. Mum sighed.

“Now that the summer holidays are over, I am going to be traveling again, and with your father based in Warwick of course we need a babysitter. I left your brother and sisters with you for one day, Flora, and Jas ended up in hospital! Zoran can help you with homework when school starts again. He’s rather brilliant, your father says. And it’ll be fun for Twig and Jas, like having a big brother.”

“What about Blue?”

“What do you mean, what about Blue?”

“What about me?” I asked, and they both jumped.

“Stop creeping up on people!said Flora. “And stop looking at everyone through that stupid camera.”

“It’s not on. And it’s not stupid.”

“You have homework, too,” said Mum.

“But I never need help with it,” I pointed out.

“Genius,” muttered Flora, but Mum smiled at me.

“Then he will just be a presence, my darling. A happy presence.”


------------------------------

Once upon a time, about thirteen years ago, there were two little dots that grew into grains that grew into beans then babies, and they lived in the same warm water-filled sack, where they got fed through a long tube that went straight into their stomachs. The babies grew ears and mouths and fingers and toes, and they lived curled around each other. Doctors took photographs of them and people said that they were like two peas in a pod. Even before they were born, their parents called the babies Iris and Bluebell—spring names for spring babies, they said. When it was time for them to leave the water everybody thought Bluebell would go first because she was biggest, but Iris beat her to it and shot headlong into the world so fast the midwife almost dropped her.

Grandma says that nothing could ever stop Iris rushing, not even me. It’s how she was born, and nine years later it was how she died.

Iris has been dead for three years. Flora cried and cried when it happened, but I’m not sure she ever thinks about her now. Not the way I do. Sometimes I dream that we’re still sleeping curled around each other, and when I wake up my arms are reaching out for her. Once when Grandma was staying with us after the funeral, she said that sometimes people don’t have to speak to each other to know what they are thinking, and that Iris and I had a special bond because we were twins. She said that when soldiers had limbs amputated in the war, they could still feel the arm or leg or foot that had been cut off and that this was what losing Iris was like for me. She said the memory of Iris would always be with me.

“Like a soldier without a foot,” Flora said. “Blue will have to hop,” she added, but Grandma said that wasn’t what she meant at all.

At first when Iris died I used to see her everywhere. She felt so close I used to think our shadows had gotten mixed up. Sometimes now, if the sun is behind me when I am filming and I can see my own shadow I still pretend it’s hers, but it’s not the same, and Mum going on about big brothers and happy presences makes me want to scream, because I know that’s not what she’s really talking about, what she’s really talking about is Iris and her unhappy absence.

The Film Diaries Of Bluebell Gadsby
SCENE THREE (transcript)
The Bank Holiday Family Picnic

DAY. SOME RANDOM PICNIC SPOT IN THE COUNTRY.

A tablecloth is spread beneath an oak tree. Bread, cheese, deli tubs of hummus, olives, and vine leaves. Tomatoes, ham, squashed strawberries in a Tupperware container. A half-empty bottle of white wine. FATHER lies on his back with a battered straw hat over his face. He wears crumpled chinos, a cotton shirt without a collar, and a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches. MOTHER lies beside him, leaning back on her elbows, watching JASMINE and TWIG build a den on the edge of the nearby woods. FLORA sits cross-legged with her back to them, listening to her iPod. White noise crackles around her. Father awakens, removes the hat from his face, and sits up. He is unshaven and has bags under his eyes.

FATHER

Dear child, must you make that ghastly noise?

Flora ignores him, nodding her head to the music. Father tiptoes over and removes earbuds from her ears.

FATHER

There is a reason they are called personal stereos.

 

FLORA

(screeches and tries to grab back earbuds)

Nobody calls them personal stereos!

 

CAMERAMAN (BLUE) snorts. All eyes turn to her. Mother looks worried. Father rubs his face, raises his eyebrows, and tries to stifle a yawn.

FLORA

(angrily)

Turn that camera off!

 

BLUE

(bravely)

It’s for my video diary.

 

FLORA

Turn it off now or I’ll throw it in the pond.

 

Monday, August 29

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 footage, because usually when people realize I am filming, they stop talking. Dad says that by the time I am grown up people will be so used to seeing me with a camera in my hand they won’t be able to stop talking, and that I will make my fortune as a TV interviewer. But Dad says a lot of things. In the meantime, what I can’t record on film, I write about on what he calls “a contemporary echo of the old-fashioned notebook”—my laptop, recently inherited from Flora.

When I write, nobody can tell me to get lost. So I have lots of mini-films, for atmosphere, plus their transcripts on the laptop, as well as longer chapters for detail. It is a multimedia record. I have seen installations like this in the Tate Modern, where Dad takes me sometimes when he says home is just too much.

Just when things were getting interesting this afternoon, what with Flora screeching and Dad looking lost, Mum made me turn the camera off. I tried to explain—again—about the plan to record my life, and that I write about everything I don’t film anyway, but Flora said she didn’t care.

“I don’t have to read your stupid diary,” she said. “But you’re not filming me without any makeup.”

“Try to be nice,” said Mum. “A few more days and you’ll be back at school.”

“Thank GOD!” cried Flora.

Dad beamed and said, “Do I detect the late blooming of an academic?” and this time it was Flora who snorted.

“I think Flora is mainly looking forward to seeing her friends,” murmured Mum.

“Can you blame me?” cried Flora. She pulled her mobile out of her pocket and groaned. “All my friends get home today and I’m stuck up a hill wi...

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Book Description Puffin Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. An unforgettable middle-grade debut that will steal your heart 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780142426913

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Book Description Puffin Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. An unforgettable middle-grade debut that will steal your heart 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780142426913

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Book Description Puffin. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 272 pages. Dimensions: 7.6in. x 5.1in. x 0.6in.An unforgettable middle-grade debut that will steal your heartBlue Gadsbys 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 homeand 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 familys 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 Farrants After Iris is a story that will stay with readers long after the last page. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780142426913

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