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What Happens Next

What Happens Next is a YA contemporary fiction debut by Colleen Clayton.

A gorgeously written and moving novel, a quick synopsis is thus:

Cassidy “Sid” Murphy, with her fiery red curly hair and rounded figure has always stood out in a crowd – meaning teasing and embarrassment. But with her cheerleading and good grades, she gets by – especially with two best friends that she loves hanging out with.

When she goes on ski trip with her friends, a hot college guy named Dax Windsor seems amazed by the hair that she often can’t stand and doesn’t seem to mind the figure that hasn’t attracted any other boy at school – and as much as she hates to admit it, she’s flattered. And when he asks her to ditch her curfew and come to a party - she does.

But Dax isn’t who he says he is. When she wakes up with her head throbbing and a numbness coursing through her body, she’s confused. As it wears off she notices the pain, the blood, the fact that her sweater is inside out, and that a lock of her hair is missing…

It’s horrifying, unsettling, and changes something deep inside her. She can’t seem to get the words out to tell anyone. The fact that she met him, that she fell for his ridiculous act… she can’t get over it. And when she returns home, Sid’s an insomniac – runs late into the night, brushes off her friends, and just can’t seem to function normally anymore.

When Sid drops her college prep classes and replaces it with A/V she finds herself in contact with Corey Livingston – a guy that she, and everyone else, has figured is a heavy stoner and nothing much else. But as she gets to know him she finds that there’s much more to him – and while she’s with him the nightmarish stupor she’s in vanishes to something closer to happiness.

If only her body would stop being her enemy, sleep stop being frightening, and her life stop crumbling around her…

What Happens Next was heartbreakingly beautiful. Right off the bat I’ll say that this is perfect for readers of Sarah Dessen, Sara Zarr, and the like.

Colleen Clayton so perfectly shows us how a horrific incident changes Sid and allows us to see the logic behind each damaging decision she makes – you can see how it would make sense to Sid, and that’s important as you watch a downward spiral. We witness the extraordinarily bleak, painful, but at times, inspiring results.

Broken friendships, hidden agony, slow but profound healing – my heart was being tugged along at every step in the superbly penned journey. What Happens Next is meaningful, touching, and gripping – I was behind Sid always.

And like life, even in the darkest moments there were times that What Happens Next was funny and charming – while still having that underlying tone of despondency and anxiety. I ached for Sid to tell someone, to stop carrying the burden alone.

What Happens Next is stunning, heartfelt, and extremely powerful. It built up to a strong end that stayed with me. You need to read this!

*I received a review copy of What Happens Next from Hachette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.

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