A Tale of Love and Hope: A Review of IRISES by Francisco X. Stork

Francisco X. Stork
304 pages
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Release Date: January 1st, 2012
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: LIKED

Two sisters discover what’s truly worth living for in the new novel by the author of MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD.

TWO SISTERS: Kate is bound for Stanford and an M.D. — if her family will let her go. Mary wants only to stay home and paint. When their loving but repressive father dies, they must figure out how to support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state, and how to get along in all their uneasy sisterhood.

THREE YOUNG MEN: Then three men sway their lives: Kate’s boyfriend Simon offers to marry her, providing much-needed stability. Mary is drawn to Marcos, though she fears his violent past. And Andy tempts Kate with more than romance, recognizing her ambition because it matches his own.

ONE AGONIZING CHOICE: Kate and Mary each find new possibilities and darknesses in their sudden freedom. But it’s Mama’s life that might divide them for good — the question of *if* she lives, and what’s worth living for.

IRISES is Francisco X. Stork’s most provocative and courageous novel yet.

   Irises was a book I picked up because of the cover. A hazy image of two girls, possibly sisters, overlooking moving water. Now that I’ve flipped over the last page, I’ve realized the cover depicts a type of sorrow that lingers through the pages.

   Irises is a tale of love and hope. Two normal girls, sisters two years apart, left alone with nothing but their broken hearts and a shaky future. Irises is a type of story that would bring a smile to your lips while tears stream from your eyes.

   Kate and Mary’s father dies within the first few pages, leaving them with their mother who’s been in a vegetative state for the past two years. She’s as good as dead, though the girls still have faith that she may wake up one day. Kate longs to become a doctor, though not in nearby UT El Paso. She wants to go miles away to Stanford. Mary longs to bring back the love of painting she had before her mother’s accident. Now, her days are simply mirrors of the day before, filled with hopelessness and lonely.

   Francisco Stork’s writing style is as simple as can be. To be honest, it first struck me as unprofessional, amateuristic. But as I flipped through, page after page, his simple style grew on me. The words held emotion, as I’m sure he wanted. Irises doesn’t hold a world to be described, but emotions to be felt, hope to be mustered.

   The prologue and epilogue ended up as my favorite. The prologue was cheerful, and sets the stage for the oncoming hardships. The epilogue held a certain wave of happiness, despite the pain the sisters had gone through.

   Irises may not be for everyone. But if you enjoy the occassional contemporary that will leave you smiling with tear filled eyes, Francisco X. Stork’s latest will deliver.

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Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply

    Rummanah Aasi

    January 5, 2012

    I loved his “Marcelo and the Real World” and am really excited to read his latest book. I like how his books are so different from one another. I never really thought his writing style was very simplistic so that was interesting to read in your review. Really looking forward to reading this one.

  2. Reply


    January 5, 2012

    Every once and awhile it feels almost cathartic to read something that is emotionally focused and can draw that out of me. Sounds like I may need to check this one out. :)

  3. Reply


    January 5, 2012

    The cover of this one also caught my eye and I was curious about it. This is the first review I read on it too. It sounds like a book I would enjoy for sure!

    Xpresso Reads

  4. Reply

    A Canadian Girl

    January 5, 2012

    I didn't think this one would be for me but I like contemporaries that deliver an emotional punch so I'll check this one out. It seems like a book that would hold my interest. Great review, Hafsah!

  5. Reply


    January 5, 2012

    Sounds interesting. I have just recently started reading contemporary, so I might check this out.

  6. Reply


    January 5, 2012

    I'll check this one out/love tear yeerkers
    Great review, Hafsah!

  7. Reply


    January 5, 2012

    I have Marcello in the Real World but haven't read it yet. I'll have to read that and determine whether I would give this one a try. It sounds good, but I guess not amazing. So we'll see…
    But a book that gets those emotions all over the place- definitely a good thing!

  8. Reply

    Mary @ BookSwarm

    January 6, 2012

    Simple can be good, especially when used by a deft hand. And I like the cover, too. Very different than many books out there and sweetly sorrowful, the way they're kind of clutching at one another.

  9. Reply

    Gabrielle Carolina

    January 6, 2012

    Great review! Loved it. : )

  10. Reply


    January 7, 2012

    Wow! You write a really great review! Your description of Stork's writing is interesting. I might be convinced to read this one just because your review was so good!


  11. Reply


    January 22, 2012

    This sounds like a really lovely read. Nothing too spectacular, but a wonderful story nonetheless. The cover is definitely gorgeous.

  12. Reply

    Maji Bookshelf

    February 12, 2012

    Aww this sounds like such a touching read!! I honestly do need a contemp that will leave me smiling with tears… I will have to definitely check it out!! Thanks for the honest review!

    Farah @Majibookshelf

  13. Reply


    October 25, 2012

    I think your review is really dead on. I didn't really enjoy this book but it was just because it wasn't for me.

  14. Reply

    Jaime Lester

    November 29, 2012

    I keep seeing this book at the library and I pick it up, wondering whether I should read it or not. It seems like I should. I do like a good emotional story. Not all of the time, but there are times when that is just what I need. Next time I am at the library, I think I will have to pick Irises up and look at in an all new light.

  15. Reply


    December 20, 2012

    I haven't heard about this book, but after reading your honest review, I will look for it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this novel.