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What Happens Now Hardcover – June 7, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Castle's latest explores life and relationships with a gentle touch, steady rhythm, and quirky characters who face real issues. Seventeen-year-old Ari spies Camden from afar at the lake and spends her summer daydreaming of the boyfriend he would be. She is recovering from emotional and physical scars after an episode of cutting. The following summer, they "meet cute" when Ari accidentally steps into the boys' restroom as her crush exits. Camden, mysterious and elusive, lives with his artist mother in a renovated barn and attends the local alternative school. Camden engages in his own projections, as his attraction to Ari is based upon the assumption that she leads the normal life he craves. He introduces Ari to his friends: edgy teens with clever banter and ardent fans of Ari's favorite show, the sci-fi throwback Silver Arrow. The gang participate in cosplay and attend a Comic Con-type event, despite Ari's parents denying her permission. The protagonist's forays into this distinct world with unfamiliar people foretell a collision of reality with her expectations. Castle skillfully navigates these wonder years as Ari realizes that daydreams do not always work out. Still, the book ends on a hopeful note. VERDICT This romance between shy teens has wide appeal and happily delivers for those who enjoy works by Sarah Dessen.—Laura Falli, McNeil High School, Austin, TX
"Castle has created a gripping novel about the aftermath of getting what you have always dreamt of...captures the feeling of the infinite possibilities that summer holds, while tackling the larger issues that spill into the rest of the year." (ALA Booklist)
"What Happens Now is a riveting tale of firstlove, possibilities, and overcoming the demons within. Castle handlesthe sensitive topics of depression and self-harm with great compassion.She not only describes what Ari is going through in words, she makes you feel her journey and the healing power of love." (Parent.co)
“A sweet, sensitive romance distinguished by its respect for fandom.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Castle’s latest explores life and relationships with a gentle touch, steady rhythm, and quirky characters who face real issues...This romance between shy teens has wide appeal and happily delivers for those who enjoy works by Sarah Dessen.” (School Library Journal)
“Castle’s latest captures the feeling of the infinite possibilities that summer holds.” (ALA Booklist)
“Castle depicts the subtle complexities of familial and romantic relationships with vividness and sensitivity.” (Publishers Weekly)
“What Happens Now is the perfect book for a lazy summer day.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
Top customer reviews
ONE WORD: almost
This summer Ari hopes to get closer to Camden, the boy she crushed on at the lake. Between babysitting for her half-sister, working at her stepfather's store and continuing to recover from depression she tries to balance growing apart from her best friend and navigating new friendships.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW uses mental illness as a prop to tell Ari's story, occasionally mentioning Ari's history of self mutilation and her depression, but I never felt as if her issues were well integrated into her character. Instead they seemed more like a way to make her more interesting and give her some personality. I felt like Jennifer Castle tried too hard to make Ari perfect, which left the character lacking in dimension. The perfect sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend, sprinkle in an act of rebellion to show dome growth and BAM, you've got a reliable narrator with tons of insight.
The minor characters were flawed and interesting, but not fully developed. They had issues which were mentioned and never fleshed out or resolved. Ari's mother and their relationship gets explained by a conveniently letter, which felt way too easy and in-your-face. I loved Ari's relationship with her stepfather, who was one of my favorite characters.
Castle has a compelling writing style which held my interest, although I would have preferred shorter chapters that made more sense, instead the cut off seemed to be at a certain number of pages. I will look into reading her again.
THEMES: depression, mental illness, families, step families, parents, siblings, romance, friendship
WHAT HAPPENS NOW is an average, but enjoyable read.
Though she never expected him to be the perfect idea that existed in her head, he feels that he might not live up to her expectations, while she is not sure she wants to fall into a relationship and go too fast like she had in her previous. But they do fall in love with each other, expecting the other to heal them, and there is a lot to be said for the healthiness of the relationships portrayed. We see it with her parents, Eliza and Max, and in Ari and her little sister. Speaking of which, this was a story about Ari also learning to sometimes live for herself and not for expectations. On the whole, the plot feels kind of vague and it is particular brand of fiction that you can’t really pin down what it is about. However, it delivers a beautiful story and some superbly written flawed characters. 3.5 stars for this one!
Camden's back at the lake together with his friends. This second summer Ari runs into him and they start talking. They actually have many things in common and Ari's crush on him gets even bigger. They love the same television show and Camden's friends are into cosplay. They include Ari and want her to dress up with them. Finally she feels like she belongs. Only the real Camden is nothing like the Camden she created for herself in her dreams. He's damaged and his seemingly glamorous life isn't that much fun after all. It makes him more human and approachable, but it also brings new problems. Will things keep going well when the summer progresses or will the time with Camden and his friends damage Ari even more?
What Happens Now is a beautiful story. Ari struggles and even though she has so many things to feel bad about she's strong and she tries to make something of every day. Jennifer Castle doesn't only describe Ari's depression with words, her writing made me actually feel what Ari was feeling. I think that's an admirable achievement. It makes the story raw, honest and authentic. The cheerful summer weather and the fun of spending time with friends are good counterparts for the darker elements of the story. The balance is exactly right, it never becomes too much to handle or too heavy.
You often don't know what happens behind closed doors. Even if someone else might seem to have what you want that doesn't mean this person has a perfect life. Ari and her new friends all struggle with something and that is partially the glue that binds them. Camden is special and it's clear from the start that there's a connection. There are so many obstacles in their way, but Ari is a fighter. I loved that about her. She learns a lot about herself and her family by consciously thinking things through. I admired her for it and the fact that she's so grown up even though she's still young made me love her character even more.
Jennifer Castle handles the sensitive topic of mental health issues very well. She makes it part of Ari's personality, but Ari isn't just her illness, she's so much more. The depression, and everything that happened because of it, is always there and reading about Ari's relationship with her mother and all the responsibilities she has often brought tears to my eyes. I think Jennifer Castle has written an impressive story, one that's a definite must-read if you like YA summer stories with plenty of depth.