About the Book
Book: What Happens Next
Author: Christina Suzann Nelson
Genre: General Fiction/Contemporary
Release Date: January 17, 2023
Popular podcaster and ex-reporter Faith Byrne has made a name for herself telling stories of greatness after tragedy–but her real life does not mirror the stories she tells. While her daughters spend the summer in Hawaii with her ex-husband and his new wife, she must manage life on her own. But all that changes when she’s asked to spotlight her childhood best friend’s missing person case on her podcast.
Dora Crane has never accepted that her younger daughter could be dead, keeping her home looking the same as when her daughter disappeared. But when her husband leaves her, and her older daughter intervenes, she agrees to counseling and to pack up her missing daughter’s belongings under one condition: Faith Byrne comes to Deep Valley and sheds light on the cold case.
As the investigation moves forward, the two women uncover desperate secrets, and Faith and Dora must face the long-hidden truth before they can begin to move forward.
Award-winning author Christina Suzann Nelson masterfully leads readers on a journey of discovery, healing, and friendship in this suspenseful and poignant tale.
What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson is AMAZING. I know for a fact this book will be on my top-ten list for 2023. This story is told in three perspectives: Faith, Dora, and Heather. Faith and Dora are the contemporary points of view, and Heather’s P.O.V. hearkens back to the summer of 1987. In the summer of 1987, I had just turned six years old. My sense of nostalgia for Heather’s day was fierce during all of her chapters. As she illustrates, I, too, fondly remember long summer nights, bike riding all over the place with my brothers, movie nights with homemade popcorn, BBQs and soda pop, and all the popsicles I could stomach. It was so much fun taking a walk down memory lane. I actually think this is my favorite aspect of this beautiful story. Nelson does an excellent job with place and time. I really enjoyed Faith and Dora’s modern perspectives, but Heather stole my heart. I really loved everything about this precocious young lady. She is spunky, courageous and brave, and so honest. She just says things like they are. She is totally endearing. When I got to the end of her storyline, I had to take a break from the story and mourn her. In fact, as I type this, I’m trying so hard not to cry again. This character really wheedled her way into my heart and she won’t be leaving any time soon.
Some people have a difficult time talking. Some of us have a hard time talking AND being in groups. The idea of a grief group, while I understand the value, makes my skin crawl. Grief hits in all different ways and in waves. Sometimes the waves are tiny. Sometimes the waves are tsunamis. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, grief makes me want to hide like a wounded animal. I don’t want to talk and I don’t want hugs. I just want to work. Dora is a woman after my own heart. She doesn’t want to talk either, she just wants action. Faith, likewise, struggles to deal with her grief, not because she doesn’t want to or because she is too busy acting rather than dealing, but because she doesn’t recognize she has any grief to deal with. I get this, too. When we compare our stories to others, we often talk ourselves down from the care we actually need because others’ pain and grief feels more real and more deep. Dora lost a ten-year old child. The child who came from her body. Compared to that, divorce feels like a nothing burger. I mean, death of child and divorce are not even in the same category. Yes, it is true that they are not the same thing but loss is loss, and all loss causes some level of grief that should be dealt with. Both Dora and Faith come to realize this very important fact. I really appreciate Nelson’s honest discussion about grief and how some of us fight dealing with it kicking and screaming, while others don’t even realize they have grief to face. This story really had me evaluating my own grief and how I am handling it. It may be time to start talking!
What Happens Next is a phenomenal story. I loved every single minute of this well-written, highly engaging story. This is a story I will not soon forget, and it is one I highly, highly recommend. If you read one book this year, make it What Happens Next!
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, through NetGalley. I also received a paperback review copy of this book as part of Bethany House’s Influencer Team in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.