Book Review: What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson

Christina Suzann Nelson is releasing a new novel, What Happens Next. Her stories are as virtuous as they are insightful. You can’t read one without taking away something helpful about relationships and the redemptive work of God in a person’s life. And she doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. Her latest book deals with grief and other forms of loss.

In What Happens Next, Faith Byrne confronts a heartache that has lingered from childhood – a treasured friendship with Heather Crane that had mysteriously vanished decades ago. Circumstances reunite Faith with her past amid the isolation brought on by recent losses.

Nelson uses a striking literary device to build reader empathy for her protagonist. Faith’s friend Heather comes alive as she narrates in the first person but from a timeframe well before the book’s open. As in her earlier books, Nelson excels in developing female characters from childhood forward. The reader bounces back and forth between present day and decades prior. Heather is a rough-and-tumble adolescent one can’t help but like, which makes Faith’s loss feel more acute. The resolution of the mystery of Heather’s absence unfolds in her own narrative and engages the reader throughout the novel. Hence, the title.

Heather’s mother, Dora Crane, is limping badly through life. Past heartaches and present-day disappointments render her an emotional cripple. Anyone who’s hostage to the past will connect with this character. To some degree, that’s all of us.

I was expecting to hear through Faith’s podcast what she learned and the takeaways she would deem important enough to share with listeners. I think that was a missed opportunity to further engage the reader, to dig deeper into Faith’s psyche.

What Happens Next crafts a mosaic of the disconnected soul, one that suffers from loss, broken relationships, and deep, unfulfilled longings. We all experience events that banish us from love, lock us into isolation, and threaten to keep us there. To learn how to become unshackled from hurts and disappointment, consider Christina Suzann Nelson’s take on it in What Happens Next.

Nelson’s book can be purchased from the following websites:

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