Book Review: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

what happens next cover

View from the window seat:
Sid Murphy has a good life: she’s on the cheerleading squad, has a stellar GPA, and has two best friends. Then a ski trip changes everything. She meets Dax Windsor, a gorgeous college boy who seems to like her. Sid can’t wait to spend more time with him…until she wakes up alone in his cabin and can’t remember what happened the night before. After a fallout with her friends, she signs up to be a AV aide to avoid them in class and meets Corey Livingston. She thinks she knows all about Corey, a stoner and juvie kid. But Corey is so much more than that and Sid finds herself actually happy…except that night on the ski trip still haunts her.

This is a heavy book, dealing with issues of rape and eating disorders. The title fits the book aptly, though, because the focus of the story is more about living after something terrible happens. This journey is handled beautifully through Sid’s narrative. Prickly, fierce Sid is everything you can want in a YA heroine. She’s so self aware the entire time; she knows she hurting herself, and why she’s doing it, but she can’t seem to find a way to stop.

Corey and Sid’s relationship, though, is what made the book a worthwhile read for me. It builds slowly as Sid lets Corey in and they both start to trust each other. What I really liked about this relationship was that it wasn’t a boy-saves-girl story. Corey forces Sid to confront her issues about her body, but Sid also forces Corey to open up about his difficult home life.

I am sure the ending will frustrate some readers, as it leaves the story pretty open. I, however, found this to be the perfect ending to a story like this. A person will never get over or forget a traumatic event like rape. It can’t just be wrapped up into a nice, pretty conclusion. But there is a chance that she can move on with her life, which is what I think the whole point of the story is. That one night doesn’t define Sid.  She has people and a future worth living for and with the help of her family and friends, she can begin the process of healing and moving on.

Overall impression:
What Happens Next handles tough issues, but the real story is all Sid and her struggle to overcome a traumatic event.


Note: I received this ARC from the publisher at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference.


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