by Jennifer Castle
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Rate: 4.5/5 stars
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.
What Happens Now is a beautifully written book that deals with depression. For some reason, while I’ve seen many books that deal with depression in teenagers, I haven’t seen many that do it well. However, What Happens Now by Jennifer Castle is one of those books that falls into the category of dealing with mental illness in a raw, painful way, and yet a way that still makes the situation look hopeful and full of light.
Ari is the main character in the book, and she has been dealing with depression for a long time. She knows that it is a hard battle to fight, and once night, she hurts herself, because things are really dark and she isn’t sure how much more she can handle. In fact, things are so difficult for her, she turns to cutting as a means to cope with the emotional pain that she is dealing with.
After one particularly bad night, she decides that she wants to get better – even though her mother doesn’t seem like she’s ever there for her emotionally, she’s losing her best friend, and all she does is spend every single day taking care of her half-sister, which is getting to her. She feels isolated and alone.
Once when Ari is at the lake where everyone goes to swim, she notices a boy – his name is Camden, and Ari is instantly taken with him. She wants to know everything about him, and possibly even have more than just friendship with him. But the problem is, Ari isn’t sure she is ready to come out of her shell and deal with all the negativity in her life…she isn’t sure she is ready for something positive. But she wants to try. She wants to be close with Camden.
This book isn’t just dealing with dark themes such as depression and cutting – it deals with healthy themes as well, such as fighting to recover from it. It’s nice to see a book that really pays attention to feelings and what’s going on inside the main character’s head. What Happens Now is a story about struggling to get well when dealing with mental illness – it’s a beautiful book that makes you feel a little less alone on those days when you’re feeling down. I thought this book was well written, and the characters were easy to connect to – I suffered severe depression as a teenager, and I am all too familiar with Ari’s coping mechanisms. Depression and self injury are not talked about enough for how often they occur not only in young people, but in everyone. This book is taking a huge step into making others feel like there really is a light in the darkness.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Jennifer Castle received her B.A. in Creative Writing at Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist’s assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that’s an actual job) before falling into a niche producing websites for kids and teens. Her debut, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection as well as a Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” book. YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE and its companion digital novella, PLAYING KEIRA, were published by HarperTeen in June 2013. Her next novel, WHAT HAPPENS NOW, is forthcoming from Harper in June 2016. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and daughters.