Monday, December 3, 2012

What Happens Next

By Colleen Clayton
Read: November 23-24, 2012
Published: October 9th 2012 by Poppy (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Category: Contemporary YA 
Source: Library book


How can you talk about something you can’t remember?

Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still...), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.

Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect... or so she thinks.

Witty and poignant, Colleen Clayton’s stunning debut is a story about moving on after the unthinkable happens. (From Goodreads)


Cassidy 'Sid' Murphy has always been told that guys aren't going to be able to resist her when she's out of high school. She's curvy and busty and not like the stick thin girls that the boys she knows seem to want. But none of that makes her feel any better right now. So when she meets Dax Windsor on a school ski trip she is elated. He is attractive and in college, and he seems completely enamored with her. When he asks her to sneak out to a party, she goes to meet him despite her friends' warnings. The next morning she wakes up having no memory of the night before. The one thing she understands for certain is that he has taken something from her that she can never get back. 

What Happens Next is a powerful book because it is honest. Colleen Clayton captures so many truths about real life: its brokenness and all the good and bad ways we cope, as well as how easy it is to miss what is really going on. Sid cannot remember what happened to her that night, and as a way to make it go away doesn't tell anyone that she was raped. Though I wanted to demand that she speak up(!), I understood when she didn't. 

This story is uncomfortably realistic. Even though it deals with heavy subjects that I have never experienced, I related to so much of it. How easy it is to continue to keep silent, when you didn’t speak up the first time. How someone can know they need help, but still not ask for it. How easy it is to miss noticing that something is different about a person. How easy it is to notice that something is different about a person but not know what to do to help them. How slowly an eating disorder can creep up on a someone without them realizing it. 

Clayton brilliantly - and painfully - portrays the development of Sid's eating disorder, which did not exist at all before that night. How it develops as a way to mange the horror she feels after being raped, and also as a way to get rid of her figure that attracted this guy to her. It is frightening how rationally, and at the same time irrationally, it becomes part of Sid's life. I am not exaggerating when I say that one of my roommates in college was Sid. Not her life experiences, but she had an eating disorder that manifested in nearly the same way. It was difficult to watch her behavior and not know what to do to help her, and I felt the same way about Sid as I read this book. 

But What Happens Next is also about hope. Despite everything, some things begin to go exactly right for Sid. For one she meets Corey who it turns out is perfect for her, and whom she likely never would have known if her life had taken another path. He is a boy with a past of his own, but he slowly helps her fill her life with good things again. Sid's family is also a big part of her life and they remain that way throughout the book. I loved their constant presence in Sid's life. 

I think What Happens Next is a book that all teens should read, and I say that at the risk of sounding clich√©. I don't mean because they need to be warned about getting drugged by strange guys, though that is an important lesson. It's because Sid believes that this one experience has taken everything from her, but learns over time that she hasn't lost everything after all. Good things and life are still possible. And most importantly she has people in her life who will love and support her along the way. Actually, that's an important lesson for everyone. 

Love Triangle Factor: None

Rating: 4.5 stars

13 comments:

  1. Ooooh, you got me all excited about it now! I have the ebook, but haven't picked it up yet, so it'd be a nice change from the fantasy themed book I've been reading lately. Thank you for sharing and I'm so glad you liked it:)

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imaginations

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    1. I hope you read it soon. Such a great book. I like to mix up my genres as well.

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  2. I hadn't heard of this book. Thanks for putting it on my radar.

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    1. I think you'll really like this one Carrie!

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  3. I loved this one so much. I need to do a re-read soon. Just like you there were times when I wanted Sid to say something, anything, but I totally got why she didn't. This is definitely one I'll be recommending.

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    1. This is definitely one I'll want to re-read too! And I'm already pimping it out to everyone.

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    2. Also, it was so hard to watch her stay silent. But it was one of those situations where I wondered if I'd do the same. I love how the author wrote in a way that made it hard for me to criticize Sid's behavior.

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  4. AWESOME review! So glad you read this one Lauren! It affected me in much the same way, it took me by surprise, actually, how powerful it is. My fave part of your review:

    "Colleen Clayton captures so many truths about real life: its brokenness and all the good and bad ways we cope, as well as how easy it is to miss what is really going on."

    YES! And how awesome is Sid's mom? And how perfect is Corey (so swoony, that boy!) I really liked this work and am anxious to see what this author does next!

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    1. I'm so happy that I read your review first, or else I probably would never have looked at this one! And I LOVED SId's mom. I wish I'd talked about her specifically. She is one of the people who made this book great. Corey *sigh*

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  5. Yayy! I'm SO glad you enjoyed this one! Like you, I found it to be so achingly realistic and really such a deep and profound novel. It explored these issues in such an easy-to-relate method, which made that punch and emotional attachment all the more painful. Incredible review, Lauren! :)

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    1. Yes. You just explained this book exactly! Powerful but extremely readable. I always appreciate your comments!

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  6. I already wanted to read this one after reading about it on another blog but THIS is really excellent. This book, without having read it, reminds me a little of Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt in that it is probably tough to read but HOORAY FOR HOPE.

    Yes, this is one I will be reading when the library gets it in. Absolutely. Great review, Lauren.

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    1. YES. Hope is KEY. I need to feel enough of it at the end for of a story for me to be able to leave a book in peace. I hope your library gets a copy soon. You will love this one.

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