Dec 4, 2012

Review: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

Title: What Happens Next
Author: Colleen Clayton
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: 10.9.2012
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: A

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.

This is one of those amazing books I knew would slay me from almost the beginning. Colleen Clayton needs to be commended for writing such a richly compelling novel. What Happens Next is the book that grabs you by the shoulders and stares you straight in the eye with its unflinching realism.

I felt like Clayton did a wonderful job exposing the dark aftermath of rape.  Sid’s emotional journey throughout the novel was gripping and compelling. My heart ached for this character, because I know this is something that happens all too frequently in everyday life. I think most of us (myself included) know someone that something similar to this happened to.

Sid is a wonderfully complex character. So much happens to her in such a short span of time that you can’t help but feel some sort of affection for her. In the horrific aftermath of her rape, her friends desert her and she finds herself alone and reeling, trying to make sense of things. Circumstances continue to spiral out of control and it’s captivating to watch Sid try to fight her way back.

This novel is very much the journey of one girl to figure out what happens after the unthinkable. It’s very reminiscent of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Clayton doesn’t shy away from rough topics, tackling rape and eating disorders in the space of 300 pages, but she does it with a delicate grace I think any reader can appreciate.


  1. HANNAH! I can't wait to read this! I've heard nothing but amazing things about it, I need to go to amazon immediately and but it. I'm already feeling protective of Sid just knowing what happened to her, and I can't wait to get in there and know her better. Lovely review:)

  2. I agree completely about her writing about a tough subject with grace and really learned to like the main characters in this one. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. I've been reading a lot of contemporary lately and this sounds like just the right kind--complex, with a lot of food for thought.


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