What Happens Next has been on my TBR for ages. I was drawn to it when it was first released, but somehow never got around to reading it. When Andi picked it for me to read for her New to You feature, I was thrilled I finally had a real excuse to force me to read it. Now that I did? I’m really grateful she selected this one for me. She anticipated I would love it and she was right.
All that said, it’s difficult to put my thoughts about What Happens Next into words. If you’ve read it, you understand where I’m coming from on this one. If you’ve not, but want to, you’ll understand once you read it. My heart absolutely ached for Sid. She went through something no one should go through, and to say it changed her in a very real way would be a massive understatement.
I’ve not read many books that deal with sexual assault or rape, so I don’t have much to compare What Happens Next to. But, I think it was handled very well here. Or as well as this subject matter can be anyhow. Because of the nature of Sid’s assault — she was drugged — we as readers are not forced to live vicariously through it with her. Thank goodness. Instead, we pick up the story afterwards as the fogginess clears and she begins to realize what she’d been through. That was real and raw enough for me and it broke my heart just a little. (Ok, a lot.)
The rest of the book is Sid trying to find her new normal and, to be honest, making some pretty poor choices along the way. There were times I was incredibly angry with her, but mostly I was just concerned for her. I wanted her to TELL SOMEONE, but instead she focused her energies elsewhere. Exercising more? Probably not a bad way to cope. Doing it obsessively, at the expense of sleep and general health, not so much. Same with the eating disorder. Sid was struggling and no one really saw the extent of it at first because she was doing a very good job of hiding it. Of hiding herself, really. She lost so much to “Dax,” her rapist. I desperately wanted to see her get back at least part of it.
The cast of characters in this book are something special. Of course, you know how I feel about Sid. I also adored her friends, Kristen and Paige, though I did spend several chapters side-eyeing them for their reaction to the fallout from the ski trip. But then, it’s not like they had the whole story… so I’d probably have felt similarly if in their shoes. The other star of the show here was Corey, the “stoner” Sid befriends after pushing nearly everyone else in her life away. I loved how they connected and got to know each other. The pace at which things moved from friends to more just worked, too. And, bonus, there was no focus on Sid needing Corey to become whole again.
What Happens Next was a beautifully-written, moving book. It was raw and real and left me with a whole boatload of emotions I wasn’t sure what to do with. It’s not an easy read, but it’s an important one. I hope more people like me, who might’ve been on the fence about it, will make the time to read it.
My peace, my virginity, my friends, cheerleading, and now my pride: he’d taken it all.
“It’s like this light coming out of you. I could be in a crowd of thousands and know right where to find you.”