Published by Little Brown Books For Young Readers, Poppy on October 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Cassidy, known to everyone as Sid, is on a ski club trip with her two best friends when she meets a charming guy who invites her to his house for a party. She sneaks out to go to the party, without her friends who didn’t approve, and finds her way to his house. The next thing she knows is that she has woken up in this house and can’t remember anything from the night and quickly realizes that this guy stole something from her that she can’t get back. Reeling from the aftermath of this incident, she comes home and decides to stay silent about what happened. She withdrawals from her friends, starts running a lot, drops her advanced classes and takes the only available activity for credits at that time in the A/V room with Corey — a guy she knows to be a complete stoner. An unexpected friendship, and maybe even more, blossoms between them that makes her feel alive again as she tries to ignore what happened to her.
Wow! What a recommendation from Estelle! What Happens Next is definitely a book I’m surprised more people haven’t read! It was incredibly powerful and highly affective though not entirely perfect, in my eyes, with how some of the things were dealt with. It deals with a heartbreaking scenario that happens way more than we probably even know — Sid wakes up remembering nothing that happened after hanging out with a guy she met on the slopes until she realizes one thing that did happen — something she could never get back. What Happens Next deals with the aftermath of that and how she copes with this secret silently. She acts different towards people in her life and pushes them away, starts running A LOT and drops her college prep classes but, on the surface, she still very much is the same Sid. I felt like the portrayal of her dealing with this (and NOT dealing with it) and all the hurt she harbored was very realistic — she tried to push it away and ignore it but eventually she had to deal with it. I just wanted to hug her so much and kept silently pleading with her to tell someone.
The thing that made me LOVE this book was Sid herself. She is a great character that I felt like just leapt off the page. She was hilarious and strong yet I could feel those insecurities she had. I feel like, before I started this book, I thought it was going to be a really dark, serious book and, while it tackled such a topic, there was so much lightness and vibrancy in this novel because of who Sid is and the hope you could feel even in the aftermath of this horrible event. She had so much resiliency in her and you could feel it but I also could feel those gut dropping moments when you’ve almost forget it happened because you are happy and it comes rushing back. The character of Sid was written perfectly and makes this novel stick with me. Her pain was as real as her.
Also, I really need to point out 2 things — I loved the great family portrayed in this and I loved the friendship of Corey. Corey is one guy I didn’t expect to swoon over and TOTALLY did. His friendship was so important, I think, to anchor her at least a little bit and their romance came as one of those slow burn, I-TOTALLY-BELIEVE-THIS kind of romances. I loved how his relationship factored in but it didn’t overshadow Sid’s growth — she did the hard work but had great support.
I will say I was a little disappointed with how one of the issues was tackled/wrapped up. There were a lot of things that happened as a result of what happened that night and a number of, on the verge of overwhelming, threads that emerged and one of those centered around an eating disorder. It wasn’t developed a lot, like I said there was a lot going on, and I just felt this nagging sense when I finished that I didn’t completely love how it seemed like she just STOPPED doing it. Just a minor issue in my mind while reading but worthy of note because I just felt like it wasn’t super developed at all.
At first I wasn’t sure if I liked how neatly things seemed to wrap up but ultimately I decided that I know this story is just a small piece of this event and wasn’t about the healing aspect but rather the admittance that it occurred and coming to terms with what happened so the healing can begin.
I bawled through the last few pages of What Happens Next — this emotional surge that had been building up from the beginning to the end overtook me and the dam was able to burst forth with my tears. It tackles a really difficult subject brilliantly and Sid is a character who shines. Really, really shines. In the midst of a story that could, at first glance, seem to be a complete downer there is resiliency and strength in a character who is so vibrant and funny you can’t not care and flawless slowburn romance that will light your heart on fire but not distract you from Sid’s journey to come to terms with what happened so healing can come.
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think of it if you have read it? Did you LOVE Sid like I did?? How did you feel about Corey and Sid? How did you feel about how the subject was portrayed? Also, I’d love for some other recommendations for books that tackle date rape/rape well.