What Happens Next

A debut MG novel tackles eating disorders from the unique perspective of a younger sibling.

What Happens Next by Claire Swinarski. HarperCollins, 2020. 256 pages.

cover image of What Happens Next

Reading Level: Middle Grade, ages 11-13

Recommended For: Ages 11 and up

Summer won’t be the same in one Wisconsin town. As a narrator, twelve year-old Abby is bubbly, passionate about astronomy, yet also grieving the absence and loss of her loved older sister. The story unfolds in Abby’s voice with flashbacks that slowly fill in her present perspective. The Blaire she grew up adoring is gone, away being treated for her anorexia —and what will happen next?  In the meantime, an improbable summer adventure unfolds centering around the eclipse and an eccentric visiting astronomer.  The adventure and what Abby learns along the way bring lightness to a heavy topic and ground the story in MG realistic fiction. 

Swinarski does a great job tackling the issue of eating disorders from a sibling perspective. (As someone who was such a sibling once, I am speaking from experience.) She deals with a hard issue skillfully and accurately. I love the hope-filled, yet realistic narrative, the loving family at the narrative’s center, and a lack of angst as well as any agenda-driven issues.

Considerations:

  • For someone struggling with an eating disorder, this could be a trigger
  • Profanity occurs throughout the book

Overall Rating: (4) out of 5

  • Worldview/Moral Rating: (4) out of 5
  • Literary/Artistic Rating: (4) out of 5

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Hayley Morell

Born in a library and raised by books, or rather, raised by a book-loving family, Hayley loves talking and writing about books. She lives in the middle of Wisconsin and works with children as well as with words.

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