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.
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This week we had the quintessential Spring writing chat: what to do about our writing spaces and where to take them. Writing spaces have shrunk during the pandemic and many coffee houses still aren’t offering in person seating. How do we writers get away and respark our motivation when we don’t have the space to stretch our creative muscles? The answer: writing retreats. But are retreats worth it? That and more on this week’s episode.
Maureen Johnson is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several YA novels, including 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett, The Name of the Star, and Truly Devious. She has also done collaborative works, such as Let It Snow with John Green and Lauren Myracle (now on Netflix), and several works in the Shadowhunter universe with Cassandra Clare. Her work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Guardian, and she has also served as a scriptwriter for EA Games. She has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University and lives in New York City.
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