What Happens Now – Jennifer Castle

Synopsis

“I know what it is to want something so badly, you feel like your cells aren’t properly bonded together without it.
I also know what it’s like to get that something.
And honestly, I’m still not sure which is worse…”

Ari Logan is battling to win her war against depression and the dark night she hurt herself on purpose. It’s not easy: her best friend is drifting away, her mom’s emotionally checked out, and she spends her days playing caregiver to her handful of a half-sister, Danielle. But it’s summer, and anything is possible…

That’s when Camden Armstrong steps onto the beach of Ari’s local swimming lake.

At first, Ari quietly longs for Camden from afar, seeing in him everything she wants to be. When the two discover a true connection the following summer, Ari lets herself fall not just for the quirky and self-assured Camden but also his friends, tumbling into their world of independence, adventure, and shared sci-fi fandom. As Ari’s romantic dreams come true, she must unlock the mysteries of the very real and troubled boy behind her infatuation, while also struggling with her own demons, obligations, and loyalties.

From the award-winning author of “The Beginning of After” and “You Look Different in Real Life,” “What Happens Now” is a touching, insightful novel about learning to heal, learning to love, and what happens when fantasy becomes reality.

Review

I really enjoyed this book. It was a sweet beach read, but with a little bit of depth. A love story from afar and up close. I was a huge fan of Camden and Lily. My heart broke for our protagonist a hundred times. The cosplay aspect was unexpected and fun. And I loved where the story ended.

All the characters are complex. I’m glad we got a good stepfather figure (the best, really), because that’s so rare to find. Even the unlikeable characters (like Eliza) aren’t irreparably horrible. They’re young and they have faults.

The relationships were depicted in such a raw and realistic way. I can imagine these young kids falling in love for the first or second time. Learning new things and figuring them out along the way.

I do think depression wasn’t depicted that well though, particularly Lily’s experience cutting. Is it ever really one-and-done? And do so many people notice it, zero in on it, and make comments? I don’t think it’s as rare as it seems to be depicted here. And I don’t think enough people make as big a deal about it either. In this case, I think the parental figures handled it properly. But I pity those who don’t get that kind of help (immediate, compassionate, and forward-thinking) when struggling through the same temptations.

Related Reading

  • The Summer I Turned Pretty (series) – Jenny Han
  • The Boys Next Door – Jennifer Echols
  • Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
  • The Infinite Moment of Us – Lauren Myracle
  • The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak – Brian Katcher

Rating: 5/5

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