Nine-year-old Lauren Cooper is devoted to her brother, Henry. She looks to him for strength, wisdom, and the cool level-headedness that, she is realizing, she lacks. But when a sudden tragedy upsets the balance of her close-knit family, Henry’s steadfastness starts to crack, and Lauren is forced to watch out for her onetime protector as he grapples with a strange–although not atogether negative–affliction.
As the Cooper children stumble into adulthood, Lauren continues to keep an eye on Henry, whose already loose ties to the world seem to be weakening. Lauren is starting to suspect that there’s another layer to her brother’s “illness” that everyone is overlooking. And if she can understand what’s happening to him, perhaps she will unlock nothing less than the mysteries of the universe itself.
WHAT HAPPENED TO HENRY is a funny, moving, wise, and powerful tale of a family’s struggle to understand their own son–who is either crazy or blessed, not unlike the cold-war America in which they live.
Nineteen-year-old Iris Sunnaret and her three siblings live happily in a family that adopted them after their mother’s 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 brother are drawn into the conflict and both, according tot he official records, die bravely in combat on the same day. But ma who served in their platoon appears on the family’s doorstep months later, offering to tell them what really happened. Your younger son save dmy life many times over, he says, an the last time he saved me he did 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 official records. The path she follows brings her into the Iroquois Nation, into the Italian neighborhoods of upstate New York towns, an into parts of her own past that she hadn’t know existed. 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.
Karli Benmidich thinks she’s a Jewish girl from Long Island, a veterinarian, a mother of twins and daughter to two doting Jewish doctors. Then one afternoon a Native American artifact curator calls her to ask if she is the Benmidich who owns an invaluable Plains Indian war shirt. She says no. But she soon realizes that she’s wrong about this, as well as many other things about herself. She does actually own this treasure and it’s sitting in her parents’ closet where they hid it over thirty years ago along with the truth about who she really is.
She could pursue the trail beginning with this artifact, or turn away. She chooses to pursue.