What Happens Now

384p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062250476.
Gr 8 Up—Castle's latest explores life and relationships with a gentle touch, steady rhythm, and quirky characters who face real issues. Seventeen-year-old Ari spies Camden from afar at the lake and spends her summer daydreaming of the boyfriend he would be. She is recovering from emotional and physical scars after an episode of cutting. The following summer, they "meet cute" when Ari accidentally steps into the boys' restroom as her crush exits. Camden, mysterious and elusive, lives with his artist mother in a renovated barn and attends the local alternative school. Camden engages in his own projections, as his attraction to Ari is based upon the assumption that she leads the normal life he craves. He introduces Ari to his friends: edgy teens with clever banter and ardent fans of Ari's favorite show, the sci-fi throwback Silver Arrow. The gang participate in cosplay and attend a Comic Con-type event, despite Ari's parents denying her permission. The protagonist's forays into this distinct world with unfamiliar people foretell a collision of reality with her expectations. Castle skillfully navigates these wonder years as Ari realizes that daydreams do not always work out. Still, the book ends on a hopeful note.
VERDICT This romance between shy teens has wide appeal and happily delivers for those who enjoy works by Sarah Dessen.

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