What Happens Next

Can a star be put back in the sky even after it’s fallen? In this heartfelt, entertaining, and accessible middle grade novel perfect for fans of The Truth About Jellyfish, one girl makes it her summer mission to find out.  

Astronomy-obsessed Abby McCourt should be thrilled about the solar eclipse her small town of Moose Junction is about to witness, but she’s not. After her older sister Blair was sent away for an eating disorder, Abby has been in a funk. Desperate to dull the pain her sister’s absence has left, she teams up with a visiting astronomer, Dr. Leo Lacamoire, to help track down his long-lost telescope. Though this is supposed to take Abby’s mind off the distance between her and Blair, what she finds may bring her closer to her sister than she ever thought possible.

What Happens Next, Claire Swinarski
May 19, 2020

What Happens Next is an amazing read. It explores so many dynamic relationships and sensitive, but important, topics: eating disorders, family estrangement, and loneliness.

I’m not normally a fan of anachronistic story telling but it works so well for What Happens Next. Swinarski jumps around to let us know Abby’s important and relevant memories when we need to see them. She sits on a dock alone behind a juxtaposed scene of her with her friends or her sisters, and it really drives the emotion of the scenes home.

The most powerful scenes revolve around Abby’s understanding of what anorexia is doing to her sister, Blaire. She imagines the disease as a person, slowly sucking the life from her sister. In each flashback, Abby notes that she should have known something was wrong. She should have been curious about the sweaters and said something sooner when she realized her sister wasn’t eating. But many of these moments are cut short when Abby allows herself to stubbornly get angry at her sister for her selfishness, noting that first the family had no money because Blaire was doing ballet, and now they have no money because Blaire’s not doing ballet.

Abby learns that the secrets we keep for each other can often cause more harm than good and sees the terrible consequences of lost goodbyes. What Happens Next is an important read for everyone and a reminder that when mental illness strikes, it’s often more than one person who needs to heal.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Published by J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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