Friday, November 2, 2012

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Title:  What Happens Next
Author:  Colleen Clayton
Series:  stand-alone
Publisher:  Poppy
Publication Date:  October 9, 2012
Source:  Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tour
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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.

What Happens Next is a poignant, raw, and intensely heartbreaking story.  And sososo brutally honest, yet it still manages to bring the lulz and even coerced a smile out of me a time or two (or ten).  I remember reading that synopsis for the first time and thinking to myself, This is going to be a sad book.  But I am going to give it a chance because I just have this feeling that it's going to surprise me.  And you know what?  It did...it really, really did.

I've never been in Sid's situation; I've never been sexually assaulted.  But I was in an abusive relationship as a teenager, one that lasted into my very early twenties...much, much longer than it should have.  And though I can't liken my experience to Sid's, I was able to identify with her decision to keep things secret because I've been there.  I thought that the shame and guilt and pain was mine alone to bear, as did Sid.  In the beginning, I shouted at the book, at Sid, "Why won't you tell anyone what he did to you?!?"  And then I thought about how I would've handled the situation at that age.  And, yeah, there's a very real possibility that I would have reacted the same way.

And that's one of the reasons why I think this book is so great, why I loved it so much, even though it made me feel all the things...because it made me feel all the things, and if given to the right girl, it might help her to feel all the things and might help her better handle a situation like this.  Because as much as we'd like to believe that this would never happen to us or someone we know, it does and it could.  And girls should know that they did nothing wrong...it's not their fault and they should tell someone who can help them, someone they trust.  I wish every young adult would read this book, boys included, because they could learn a thing or two about what it's like to be objectified by their peers on a daily basis and what it does to a person.

I loved Sid's voice.  She's quirky and sarcastic and, eventually, pretty honest with herself.  Sid's in denial for the better part of the novel, but not in complete denial.  Every once in awhile, she lets the psychotic part of her brain (her words, not mine) slip and admit to the rational part of her brain that she's not dealing with this well.  She realizes that she has an eating disorder, that she might need counseling, and that she should tell someone what was done to her.  And yet she remains silent.

Even though her friends have turned their backs on her and she's been kicked off the cheerleading squad, there's still a bright spot in all of this.  Sid ends up in the AV room with Corey, which she has severe reservations about because of his reputation as a total slacker/stoner type.  But they eventually become friends.  And then more than friends, and as Corey proves again and again why he is one of the best-written love interests I've ever read in a YA novel, Sid falls hard for him and puts aside all of her previous prejudices as she discovers who Corey really is.

This novel is so multi-faceted, so jaw-dropping realistic and true to life.  I gasped in shock.  I blubbered and read through tears.  And I cracked up because Sid is seriously funny when she's feeling up to it.  I wish I could unread this book so I could experience it all over again for the first time.  Yes, it's sad.  Yes, it's dealing with tough subject matter that deserves some serious attention.  But I wouldn't have it any other way because this book is as real as it gets.  And the author deserves kudos for going above and beyond and writing such a tragic yet beautiful story featuring real characters dealing with real life in a less than perfect way, but dealing with it all the same.  This is a book that I definitely want my daughter to read when she's ready.  I hope it touches her the way it did me.

Favorite quotes:

"I spend the whole day shoveling.  First the driveway, then the sidewalk, then the neighbor's porch.  Every two hours, the snow is back.  The menial nature of the job is a relief from having to think too much, and I enjoy the backbreaking pain of it.  I look over at Mr. Snowblower three doors down and stifle the urge to yell "Hey, pussaaay!  That all ya got?"

"Far southwest corner.  He's over there.  With her.  Don't point."
I scan the yard.  The crowd is getting bigger by the second.
"Southwest corner?  I'm not a park ranger, Kirsten.  You mean by the hot tubs?"
"No. By the fire.  Sitting on the picnic table."

"And I never thought I'd ever be sitting here with you like this.  In my wildest dreams I never dreamed it.  I sat in that AV room for eight weeks, watching Deadwood so I wouldn't have to look at you, so that I wouldn't grab you and kiss you and thank you for getting me through something that was really, really awful.  I would watch you out of the corner of my eye, though.  God, I wanted to kiss you so bad it hurt.  I've always, always thought you were beautiful, Sid.  Always."

Rating:  Photobucket

8 comments:

  1. I am so glad you liked this book. I am really excited to get my hands on it. I loved your review. I am sure I will be blubbering when I read it.

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    1. Yeah, but you'll be laughing some, too, hopefully. :) Hope you love it!

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  2. Such a great book. Looks like we had a lot of similar feelings about it. I'm glad you enjoyed WHN!

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  3. Beautiful review, Jen. I loved hearing your personal side and I am sorry you went through the abuse but happy that you got out and moved onto something so much better and hopefully you can look back and see that you are a better person because of it. This book hasn't gotten much buzz, but I am making a note to get a copy and get the author on my blog. Thanks for sharing! Have a great weekend!

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  4. Great review! This is the first I've heard of this book and I can't wait to read it.

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  5. Hi Jen :) Wow, what an awesome review :D Totally realistic - I agree with you. I'll be sure to check this book out. :) Thanks!

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  6. You've just made me want to read this book so much more. Before reading your review I was obsessed with getting this book, but now... I don't even know how to describe it. Fantastic review! :D

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