What Happens Next (October, 2012) by debut author Colleen Clayton took my breath away with how real and wonderful the story was. Cassidy Murphy, a voluptuous cheerleader, heads off on a school ski club excursion with her two best friends. She's never skied before and ends up on the bunny slope for the first day while her more experienced friends, Paige and Kirsten, head to the black diamonds remorsefully leaving Cassidy behind. She's determined to better her skiing skills and while making attempt after attempt meets a hunky older guy, Dax, on the chair lift. Because of her over-sized chest and shapely figure she's had little experience with men and is an easy target for the suave Dax who wins her over with a few well placed compliments and some coy memory tricks. He asks her to a party after they've spent the day flirting and laughing as they ski down the easier slopes. She knows she can't really accept the invite as it would be breaking curfew for the trip and she's pretty sure Paige and Kirsten won't help her but she tries to get them to go along with her party plan anyway. They turn her down and yes, she sneaks out because this cute boy was nice to her. Cue the ominous music.
We get inside Dax's condo where there is no party but he does invite her into "his parlor" to watch a movie. We leave them laughing together and then speed zip to Cassidy waking up in a bedroom by herself, feeling sick like a hangover. She walks back to the condo where she is bombarded with her friends and the chaperone's disappointment. Her brain jiggles with worry about the events of the previous night but she can't quite say exactly what happened but her life has altered, tipped a little, keeping her mentally and physically off balance. Her grades suffer, her friends disappear. She gets kicked off the cheer leading team, drops out of one class only to be assigned to the AV room as an aide which is where she meets Corey Livingston. He turns out to be the perfect slacker dude; someone who is easy to talk to, doesn't ask a lot of questions and has secrets himself. I could have used a Corey Livingston dream date while I was in high school.
I don't know how it happens. It just does. I search and search for clues to tell me what happened, where he is, who else he has done this to. I find nothing but inner sickness. I get so torn up and panic-stricken that I have to slam my laptop shut and raise my window, stick my head out into the cold night, and try not to scream. I don't know what to do with it, this lack of peace, this need to know. I want it to go away but it won't.
Every night it comes back.
Every night I am searching. (90)
There is a hint of fairy tale to me with Dax's yellow eyes and Sid's long red locks but this book definitely tells a real life story of what many young women go through as they evaluate themselves harshly, trying to live up to false images of the perfect women while they steer their way through uncertain relationships with men. It's not that every strange man on the ski slope is going to be a Dax Windsor but they are out there. Luckily Cassidy meets Corey who likes her for who she is which is what all young women deserve.
Just like Ask the Passengers by A.S. King I will recommend this to our high school teacher-librarians as a must purchase! Review copy received from Zoe at Little, Brown, and Company. In no way did this influence my review as the book stands on its on merit.
*Just as a warning this book does have a ton of swearing.