Leslie's Review: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

book cover Hardcover: 320 pages 
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: October 9, 2012
ISBN: 9780316198684

Source of my copy: publisher
Series: none
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

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.

Leslie's Review:
When I first started reading What Happens Next, I didn't know what to expect. I know it's going to be about rape but the synopsis seemed vague and really didn't know how intense it was going to be. But I enjoyed Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds, which had similar themes so I went right ahead and read it. When I finished reading it, I was amazed and inspired.

What Happens Next is a character driven novel and there's not going to be a lot of action to drive the plot, but nevertheless, the one issue I had with it was that the rising action was long and dragged at times. But when I finally did reach the climax (which was like 20 pages from the end), I was enraptured once more. And then that ending was just... wow! Very inspiring. I liked that the message rang clear and true in those last few pages. It was what made the novel awesome overall.

The main character is Sid. Honestly, I had mix feelings for her: I liked that she was funny and intelligent and her insecurity was relatable. However, throughout the book, it frustrated and bothered me when Sid couldn't express her feelings and didn't seek help from her family or friends after her traumatic event. I wanted to so bad reach out to her and help her myself but instead I had to watch her feel hurt and depressed as she tried to cope. Despite all this, I rooted for Sid all throughout the book, and I felt relieved and happy for her when I reached that great ending.

As for the rape, I liked that the author didn't go into details. What Happens Next was less about the rape and more about Sid herself being a rape victim survivor and how she copes. It is also a beautiful love story, which I didn't expect at all.

I recommend this debut novel to those who loved Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds and/or like contemporary YA of this kind of theme. It explores a different kind of way of coping than Alex's in Mockingbirds but it is nonetheless inspiring and touching.


  1. I'm reading Mockingbirds right now, so I'll be sure to check this one out when I'm done.

  2. Hmm. Good review. It's hard to write any sort of "oh goodie!" type comments about a story like this... but we're glad to hear the topic was handled with care and sensitivity. Sounds like it could be a good read.


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