Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Review: What Happens Now by Jennifer Castle

Media Type: Print Book
Title: What Happens Now
Author: Jennifer Castle
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: Hardcover; 384
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Source: Publisher / FFBC Tours
Content Screening: Trigger warnings for depression/anxiety and cutting.

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy deeper contemporary reads with real relationships.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
"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.

What Happens Now was honestly a much deeper story than I expected it to be, and that's a good thing. When I first met Ari, our main character, I believed that this would be a story that dealt strictly with depression and cutting. While it definitely dealt with those topics, Jennifer Castle manages to wrap up so many other things right along with it. She adds in perfect moments of levity, and of self-discovery. This book isn't nearly as dark as I thought it might be, and I appreciated that.

Ari was an excellent main character, especially when it came to her battle with depression and anxiety. I really appreciated how Castle dealt with the way that Ari felt, on a daily basis. Her life didn't automatically go back to normal after the big life choice she made, and her relationships were simply perfect again. No, Ari had to fight for normality. She had to battle against people who just expected her to be okay, by explaining that she just didn't work the same way as others. I loved that Castle gave Ari a strong support network, but also added in some barriers for her as well.

In fact, one of my favorite parts of this story was the big focus on relationships. Ari's relationship with her stepfather and mother was interesting. Often, in books like this, the main character isn't a fan of their stepfather. For Ari, her relationship with him was stronger with her mother, and I kind of liked that. It made for an excellent opportunity for self-discovery and growth. Even the relationship between Ari and her best friend Kendall wasn't perfect. They bickered, they got annoyed with one another, but at the end of the day they were always there for one another. Just like real life, which is refreshing to read about in a book.

So why the missing star? Honestly, there are portions of this book that tended to drag a bit, and it made some of it a burden to get through. I loved Ari. I ate up her adorably awkward friendship with Camden and his own group of friends. Still, some of the decisions that Ari made took so long to come to fruition, that it made things slow down. Overall it was a really solid story though, and I ended up enjoying it quite a lot.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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