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Everything Afterby Sharon Pywell
Synopses & Reviews
Nineteen-year-old Iris Sunnaret and her three siblings live happily in a family that adopted them after their mother's accidental death. The youngest of the children, Iris, has few clear memories of her mother and father, and no reason to question anything she's been told by the adoptive parents she loves and trusts. She believes her world is secure, knowable, immovable.
Then history intervenes, in the form of the Vietnam War. Her two brothers are drawn into the conflict, and both, according to the official records, die bravely in combat on the same day. But a soldier who served in their platoon appears on the family's doorstep months later, offering to tell them what really happened. "Your younger son saved my life many times over," he says, "and the last time he saved me he did it by killing your older son, to save the platoon from being led into irresponsibly dangerous situations."
The family — except Iris — dismisses the man as a disturbed alcoholic. She decides to find out what really happened, seeking out other witnesses, researching other official records. The path she follows brings her into the Iroquois Nation, into an Italian neighborhood of a small upstate New York town, and into parts of her own past that she hasn't visited. She uncovers secret after secret, unraveling the picture she once had about herself, her sister, and her supposedly idyllic family life.
Heartbreaking and redemptive, Everything After is a classic drama about the forces that can change a family, and the clash of the personal, the moral, and the political on the wartime home front.
"A perceptive take on the generation that came of age during the late 60's, this second novel, with its quietly beautiful, perfectly paced prose, centers on a family divided both physically and politically by the Vietnam War." People
"The best examination of political and moral issues within the framework of family life since Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres. Pywell has a gift for capturing the complexity of sibling relationships that is all her own." Kirkus Reviews
"Pywell's ability to nail the dynamics of a family in crisis make this an immersive, affecting read." Publishers Weekly
Nineteen-year-old Iris Sunnaret thought her two brothers died bravely in combat during the Vietnam War. Months later, though, she hears a different account: that one brother killed the other. Determined to uncover the truth-and to keep her family from being ripped apart-Iris winds up uncovering something shocking about her siblings, her supposedly idyllic family, and herself.
About the Author
Sharon Pywell's work has appeared in several publications, including The Antioch Review, Western Humanities Review, The Southern Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. A former Mac-Dowell fellow, she currently teaches in the Boston metropolitan area, where she lives with her husband and their daughter.
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