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.
Oh, this book. There are so many things I enjoyed about it--strong girl friendships, protagonists making the right choices, fluffy and yet also substantial, realistic depiction of depression and the recovery/progress that takes place after a tough period...What Happens Now was a pleasant surprise in what I expected to be just another summer lake story about a boy and a girl falling for each other. now, that does happen, but a whoooooooole lot of other stuff also takes place.
|so let's get to it|
Ari's depressed. I don't really think the blurb does the book justice, because Ari's depression is a thing that a lot of people know all too well. life is good for her. her family isn't too poor, her little sister loves her a lot, she has a job and does okay in school...life is pretty decent. and yet she's depressed, and she doesn't have a good reason why. sometimes that's the hardest depression, because you feel like you should have a reason. you should be able to explain it, to rationalize it away into its dark box in the corner of your mind...but Ari can't. so that leads her to some dangerous, hurtful things that she later regrets.
in attempt to be better, to move on from that dark place, she spends her summer looking at this adorable guy on the lakefront--from a distance. she can never bring herself to talk to him. she notices every little detail about him, and somehow that kills her and keeps her floating at the same time. when it's obvious that he'll never notice her and he's with someone else, Ari tries to move on--and she thinks she has--until the following summer, when everything snaps back into place.
|literally Ari after Camden shows up again|
and then Camden notices her. and everything starts to change. what Ari doesn't realize is that admiring someone from afar and imagining them in your life can be more than damaging.
Ari is a really interesting character. I liked her from the start, mostly because I appreciated her shy love for a campy/geeky tv show, even if no one else understood her, and the way she felt about herself. she does stupid things, like walk into the men's bathroom by accident. she knows she's messed up in the past, but she's working hard to get better. the way she's focused on her family and trying to make everything right is another thing that made me fall in love with her. and let's be honest, I know what it's like to have a crush on someone I hardly know at all. she's a very realistic girl, and I feel like she feels realistic emotion, most of the time. there were a few times that I squinted my eyes at the page and thought she reacted with too much or too little fuss, but overall, I really liked her as a protagonist and as a narrator.
now, Camden...I originally liked Camden a lot. I still do like him--mostly because he's an idiot. and I guess my anger toward him is not because his character is flawed from a writing standpoint, but his actual character is more than a little skewed. this kid's been through a lot--he doesn't know who to be, he doesn't feel happy, and he's scared of not being able to save people...especially since he himself feels oh so inadequate. so when Ari waltzes into his life, desperately needing him and the perfect image she's created in her head, he's happy to be a part of her life...at first. but as their relationship deepens, and secrets get revealed, the side of Camden that worry worry worries grows and grows until it turns into a monster that damages their relationship. he does some very stupid things (like telling Ari to leave her family because he needs her and running away from his problems in the first place). he is more than a little selfish, and he can be terribly immature. but some part of me couldn't blame him for it. poor kid.
|me 90% of the time Camden opened his mouth in the last half of the book|
when Ari realizes what he's doing to her (and himself), she calls him out on his crap, waking him up to how one-sided he's been.
this was one of two main points that made this book for me. not the adorable cosplay friends who each have their own struggles, or the precious summer-time vibes that it gave me...it was the way Ari looked at Camden, after building him up into this ideal person, and she realized how the way he was acting was wrong--and still found in herself to love him, despite his flaws. and in the end, she made the painful but right decision.
the other main theme that made me really enjoy What Happens Now? is Ari's relationship/battle with her mother. at first, I looked at her mom and thought "ummm...you are world's worst mom. ever." Ari's mother is trying to find her happiness, her completion in her work, in money. she's cutting herself off from her daughters and her husband, and any time they see each other, it almost always leads into a fight. there were times when her mom snipped at Ari about how Dani seemed to like her better that I just wanted to scream into the void: "ARI DOES NOT DESERVE THIS." because it's true. no child should have to be put between their sibling and their parents. honestly, it hurt a lot seeing how much Ari and Dani had to cope on their own, with Ari basically being Dani's mom, because for point of time, I was in Ari's shoes. it was hard. and then to have that shoved in her face by her own mother...let's just sum it up with I was very, very mad. but under all the hustle and bustle this woman projects, I knew something deeper lurked, and I think that was explained very well. the link between Ari and her mom through Silver Arrow was so significant, and I found it interesting how it meant different things to each other...but at some level, it also meant the same thing. and I'm really glad that, toward the end of the book, Ari's mom got some important things off her chest and they seemed like they were starting to make things better. not perfect, but trying.
this entire book centers around Ari's one passion: Silver Arrow. now, this tv show is completely fictional, but as I was watching Ari and her friends geek out over Satina and the other characters, I was also watching my cosplay friends who loved dressing up as Star Trek or Marvel characters. I adored Ari's boots and how key they were to her self-confidence and her ability to do something Possible. it's funny how one little material thing can help keep someone grounded and focused on trying hard at life, and for Ari, it's those purple boots that turn her into a space heroine. the cosplay group was precious--Max, and his gangly limbs and long-bearing spirit, Kendall and the way she stuck around for Ari even if it wasn't her thing, even Eliza and all her problems--I love them all except Jamie. screw Jamie (but not really. I'm sure he's really nice. just a bit clueless.) and the way that the six of them band together to create a unique family of their own was so nice to see, even if things kind of fell apart in the end. it was good to see kids being kids--worrying about adult things, but also simple things like "Will people laugh at me if I dress as my favourite character?" or "Are we going to win? How are we going to do this?" also, teenagers having fun and doing what they're passionate about is one of my favourite things. so if it means dressing up like an alien to have fun, by all means, do it. these kids did.
|my personal Satina Gelt boots. plus daisies, because daisies always inspire The Possible.|
overall, I really liked this book. I wouldn't say I outright loved it, but it was a good summer read with an interesting love story and such a realistic depiction of depression and anxiety and just general teenagerhood. if the mood took me, I would definitely read it again. it's not one of my all time favorite books, but it's still good.
|3.5 hearts from me and Dean|
|but it still gets a thumbs up.|
so I'm recommending it for my precious nerds, for Dani and her fairies, and for this quote I really like.
have y'all read this book? if you have, what did you think? if not, what is one of your favourite summer reads?