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.
What Happens Next is a beautifully written, heartbreaking debut novel from Colleen Clayton. What Happens Next is a gritty contemporary novel that takes readers through the full spectrum of emotions. While not quite what I originally expected and with a few flaws, I still greatly enjoyed it.
Sid, the main character, was very hard for me to like. She started off the book very naïve and she made some very stupid decisions. Maybe it’s just because I’m the daughter of two former police officers and I can see things coming from a mile away but I really don’t think that’s it. I feel like any reasonably smart teenage girl could have been in Sid’s place and made a smarter decision than she did. Then again, if she had made a smarter decision there would have been no book. She went from naïve and carefree to cynical and angry at the world. There didn’t seem to be a middle ground with Sid and I found it hard to connect to her. As the book progressed though she did get better and by the end she was a very different person. It just took time to really start to like her.
Sid’s friends, Kirsten and Paige, were another problem for me. Sure Sid did something dumb and got them all in trouble but she didn’t deserve them ditching her when she really needed them. Paige had her reasons and I could kind of understand them but Kirsten was just mean. She ditched Sid and was a total bitch to her but when she needed a friend she went crying to Sid like nothing had happened. It was a very uneven friendship. However, when Kirsten and Paige ditched Sid, she got the chance to meet Corey. Corey was a goofball which I loved. He never did what people (especially Sid) expected. He was a sweet guy who had a bit of a romantic side hidden. He was by far my favorite character.
The story is kind of all over the place but it definitely helps keep the readers attention. What Happens Next is what’s known as an issue book. However this is not a book with just one issue. It has multiple. There’s the issue of rape, an eating disorder, and bullying. Everything tied together and it was clear how each issue related to the others. Sid was a very messed up girl and I wanted to see her get a happy ending.
Overall, What Happens Next is a hard book to read but one that I recommend. While a little dark and depressing at times the story has a very hopeful ending that left me completely satisfied and smiling.