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Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: October 9, 2012
Pages: 320
Source: For Review from Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 5 Stars

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.

In short: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton was an authentic and emotional read that really challenged my perception of the way I view the issues the novel dealt with.
What Happens Next was not my usual reading fare; those who know me know I only seldom stray into contemporary reads, choosing instead make-believe speculative fiction. And I RARELY make visits into the area of issue books, often scared away by the serious subject matter. But I can't say how utterly happy I am that I took the plunge and read What Happens Next, a story about a girl who gets date-raped while on a school ski-trip and the repercussions following the event. What a completely real and piercing read this was. As it turns out, I actually really love books that tackle serious subject matters - when they are done WELL, that is. I was definitely affected by the story and was given a lot to think about.

Sid is an instantly likeable and relatable protagonist, which makes her journey following the event all the more emotional. It's hard not to feel sympathy for a girl who loses everything in one night - her reputation, her friends, her self image, and her virginity - and yet somehow also feel proud of her that she wasn't completely beaten down. I loved how snarky and bold she was. And though I haven't personally ever gone through any experiences exactly the same to hers, I was still able to identify with the little things - her insecurities and doubts. Her authentic personality and appearance really made her stand out among a sea of cookie-cutter YA protagonists.

And I loved Sid's excellent support system in the form of her two best friends, her caring mother, her adorable brother, and her reliable pet Irish Wolfhound. And her love interest, Corey. Corey!! Corey is basically my idea of the perfect book boyfriend. Through it all, Corey is there to support Sid and it was such a relief to me that she always had him even when she felt she had no one else. He is thoughtful and caring, but also has his own insecurities and problems. The romance between Sid and Corey was pretty dang swoon-worthy, full of awkward and butterfly-inducing moments. And did I mention Corey bakes?! BAKES, people!!

Possibly the most notable part of What Happens Next is that it really challenged my perception of things and made me rethink how I view certain issues. And I am truly grateful to Colleen Clayton for that. I really appreciated her authentic approach to such serious issues. I was honestly shocked to learn that Colleen Clayton is a debut author because What Happens Next read like it was written by an experienced writer. I very much look forward to reading all her subsequent novels!

Other Reviews:
365 Days of Reading
Alluring Reads
Xpresso Reads

Authors Links:


  1. Awesome review - does sound like a good book, will have to find it now!

  2. I typically steer clear of issue books as well Aylee, I just prefer the supernatural world and it's more unrealistic problems, but I'm thinking I need to make an exception for this one! I love awkward, butterfly-inducing moments, they just make me happy, so this book is definitely now sitting atop my TBR pile. I hadn't really given it much thought before, but after this review Aylee I know I can't miss out on it!

  3. I've heard amazing things about this book!! I love a good issues book and this one sounds right up my alley. I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Aylee!

  4. Wow, I'm not big on the issue books either (usually I just can't handle how real they are). I find that the issue of rape is coming up a lot more in books, but this book really sounds like it takes this topic to heart and does it well! Great review, will need to check this book out

  5. Aylee, I'm so glad that you took a chance on this one even though it isn't what you normally read. I have been eyeing this one for awhile but now I really want to read it!! It sounds so sweet and heartbreaking at the same time. And a love interest that bakes?! Sold!

  6. This sounds like an AWESOME book. Great review, Eilidh! DID I SPELL THAT RIGHT?

  7. A man who bakes. Damn. That was the selling point.

    But, no, really, I'm in love with all the praise for this book and the mysterious Corey. Everyone has been claiming him as book boyfriend material and that just set my sights even more clearly onto this book. I was already interested, if not a little wary, because of the Heavy Issues bit, but I enjoy a contemporary romance like this one, fighting back emotionally, an excellent support system, and an amazing romance to boot! Ohhhh, I need this book *moans*

  8. i had kind fo dismissed this book a little because I don't do the whole issues-books thing well, but I do like difficult subjects when they are tackled well, so I'm going to give this one a try.

    Thanks for the review, :D

  9. Like you, I rarely venture into the world of contemporary books. But it's my new years blogging resolution (is it to early to be planning that?), so maybe I will check this one out.

  10. I hadn't read a review of this one, so I didn't know what it was about...but wow, sounds like one amazing novel. That's great the author is a debut! How wonderful. I actually love contemporay and issue books, so this sounds perfect for me.

  11. gah, i just read another review of this book and you two really enjoyed it! however, i feel so uncomfortable with issue books so i don't know if i will give this a chance. i'm glad it's done well though and yay for baking!

  12. I am so happy you loved this one so much Aylee! Yay for stepping outside of your comfort zone and finding that you really enjoyed an issue book. ALL of the characters in this novel were just so fantastic, and the way the heavy issues were handled was great. This is a fantastic review!

  13. Ooo, I've seen a lot of good reviews for this one so I'm really happy that you enjoyed it too Aylee since I added it to my wishlist. I love contemporaries but I have to read the more serious ones when I'm in the mood for them so I'll be holding off on this one for now.

    But I can't wait to meet Sid and Corey. I think it's awesome that she has a great relationship with her mom. And where can I find a guy that bakes hmmm?

  14. I'm with you on issue books - not my favorite reads or those that I'll willingly pick up. And I feel cheated (a little) when I find out a book I wasn't expecting to be one turns out to be one (like Sarah Dessen's Just Listen). But I have heard nothing but positive reviews for this book. And Sid sounds like a fantastic protagonist! I will definitely have to read this book at some point!

  15. I'm a hesitant reader of contemporary fiction and a wary reader of issue books, but your review made me want to give this one a shot. You gave it five stars and I trust your taste in books :)

    Going on the to-read list, and I'll let you know what I think!

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews