Irving is an unassuming history teacher grieving the recent death of his larger-than-life wife, Helen, whom he first met during a chance encounter at her father's bookstore. Their teenage daughter, Severn – angry at Irving, angry at Helen – has disappeared after stealing a book that may reveal more about her mother than she ever wanted to know. On the road in search of Severn, Irving revisits his past with Helen as he follows a trail of clues that reveal why Severn has disappeared. Along the way, he comes face-to-face with some long-buried family secrets – secrets that he'll have to confront if he wants to save his relationship with his daughter.
"An absorbing and deeply touching debut, After Helen is a whirlwind of a novel that, once started, is incredibly difficult to put down." – Alison Potter, Irish Examiner
"…a nuanced exploration of what it means to mourn those we love most, all their flaws considered. After Helen is an emotionally intelligent, surprising novel that more than earns its stripes." (5 stars) – Michelle Anne Schingler, Foreword Reviews
Cavanagh writes "with incisive observational skill and a plain-spoken, moderate tone. The result is an emotional depth that is often shocking in its intensity, fidelity and resonance…. I'm not the first one to say it, but here it is: After Helen is a winner." – Robert Wiersema, The Globe & Mail