What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
Published: October 9, 2012 by Poppy
Received: ARC for review (via DAC ARC Tours)
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. [goodreads]
I started out having a love/hate relationship with this book. The writing was definitely eye catching and propelled me forward in the story; however, it was the subject matter and the character's actions that made it difficult for me to read at times. The beauty of story-telling is being able to place the reader in a situation they have never experienced before, and then exposing them to the awful truth of what it's really like. In this case I was shown how a young, vibrant teenage girl's world can all change in a split decision when she makes a horrible mistake.
Sid Murphy does not have the perfect body, or the perfect hair. She's grown up among the "perfects" in her school and it's always weighed heavily on her heart. She's a tough girl though, or so she likes to think. But deep down it has always bothered her that she won't be the girl guys ask to prom, and she won't be the girl wearing those designer jeans because they just don't come in her size. That aspect of Sid I could definitely identify with. Self esteem is such a crucial part of growing up. The littlest things can break you, especially over time.
When Sid is finally noticed by a strange, older guy on their class ski trip; she makes the mistake of falling for his lies and ends up losing a very precious part of herself. Immediately after she is confused, scared, and doesn't know what to do - or what to even say to make sense of it all. A voice inside her convinces her that none of it happened. If she doesn't believe it was real, then it wasn't. This is when I became frustrated with Sid. Yes, as an older female I know how wrong it is for Sid to keep this to herself, but to a teen who already has low self esteem and is ashamed of what happened - she thinks burying the truth is what's best for the time being. So many times I wanted to shake her and say, "TELL SOMEONE! PLEASE!". When you're that invested in the story, you know the writing is done well.
As Sid continues to keep what happened to her a secret, her life begins to spiral out of control around her. She tries to grasp on to anything she can control, and soon that becomes her weight. Spending sleepless nights jogging through out town, and going days without eating a proper meal; this is Sid's reality she has created for herself. This is something she can control. My heart broke for Sid. Such a lively, vibrant girl wanting to be free of this nightmare, yet not having a clue how to do it.
It was Corey's character that really turned this novel around for me. When Sid is forced to work with him in the A/V room at school, you instantly know that their relationship is going somewhere. Corey is by no means perfect, yet he shows Sid what true beauty is and makes her feel almost happy again. As the story continues, so does the build up. Soon her secret is just too heavy on her shoulders and you know she must release it sometime. I felt like the ending came very quickly. For that much build up, I had wanted a little bit more time with the reveal and how she dealt with it.
Overall I really enjoyed Sid's voice. Though it was definitely a rough road to follow her down, in the end she finds hope, and miraculously comes out the other side a better person. It's the dark moments that define us and I truly believe Sid found her defining moment in such a dark, unforgettable place.