RSS Feed

What Happens Next Stirs Things Up

January 14, 2013 by Kiersi

Cover of What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

What Happens Next, by Colleen Clayton

This book gets: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton – It’s really hard to write good contemporary YA–and it’s even harder for me to like it. I mean this in the kindest possible way. Especially when addressing the big issues like rape and eating disorders, it’s easy for authors to preach. It’s easy for their characters, as a result, to sound flat or forced; but Clayton effortlessly dodges the trap.

Cassidy “Sid” Murphy is a straight-A cheerleader–until she meets a handsome stranger on a school ski trip. That night, Dax Windsor invites her inside, and afterwards, she can remember nothing; but she knows Dax has taken something from her. Something she can never get back.

What Happens Next is a chronicle of what comes after: the severed friendships, the nightmares, the obsessing. But also the healing; the downward spiral as well as the upward in a richly-patterned tapestry of teenager life, punctuated by the memory of something horrible and the ripple effects it has on Sid’s life.

Clayton writes it all with a distinct flair. Sid narrates her story with appreciable wit; she is so understandable, so relatable, even at her lowest. Her friends are like the friends I remember having: real people, not two-dimensional caricatures we so often see in contemporary YA friend-groups. Not to mention Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston! Finally–some contemporary YA free from alpha males. I couldn’t get enough of him, with all his baking and laid-back dreaminess.

Of course, there are the elephants in the room. The date-rape. Clayton authoritatively writes the complex circle of reasoning that leads Sid to bulimia; the total un-logic that can drive a girl to hide what has happened to her, to live a lie, until that lie starts to eat her up inside. Clayton writes it with humor and spice and everything nice, while never leaving out the nitty gritty.

More importantly, while never preaching.

Read this book, and rock on.


  1. Great review! I’ll check this out.

  2. Ruth says:

    Wow. It sounds as if Clayton has written an incredibly impressive novel. It takes real courage to tackle these issues, but I think we need more books like this to make people not merely aware of these problems, but to feel something of the pain they cause. That, I think, is one of the great gifts of literature, to give us a feeling for alien experiences or to make us know that we are not alone if we have had experiences like the ones we find in books.

  3. Sounds great, especially with a non-preachy tone!

Leave a Reply