Friday, January 27, 2023

What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson Book Review

About the Book:

Popular podcaster and ex-reporter Faith Byrne 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. All of 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 long-abandoned investigation moves forward, old wounds and long-buried secrets are exposed. Will these two women, whose lives have never been the same, finally get the answers they need to reconcile the past and the future?

You can read an excerpt here.

My Review:

This is a touching novel about solving the decades old mystery of a girl gone missing. It is told from a number of different points of view. Some chapters are from the viewpoint of the girl before she went missing. Those are in first person while the others are in third person. While it was not so hard to keep them separate, that is not a plotting technique I like. I am not sure the girl's chapters added anything that could not have been covered in the memories of her childhood friends, now active in the investigation. Having all of the past information revealed in current activities would have made for a tighter novel.

There are several themes explored in this novel. Marital difficulty is one. Grief over loss, whether by death or divorce, is another. The investigation into the cold case takes place in a small town so gossip and making judgments are more issues. And there is ultimately the issue of forgiveness. Christian faith is an important element to many of the characters.

Nelson has an engaging writing style and the novel kept my interest to the very end. The solving of the mystery was made possible by information revealed near the end so there was really no clues to help readers figure it out ahead of time, something we mystery lovers find a worthy challenge. 

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author:

Christina Suzann Nelson 
( is an inspirational speaker and Christy award-winning author. Her first novel, If We Make It Home, was honored as one of Library Journal's top five inspirational novels of 2017, and her 2021 novel, The Way It Should Be, won the Christy Award for general fiction.
In 2017, Christina was named the OCW Cascade's Writer of Promise and received a Cascade award for her novel Swimming in the Deep End. Her stories have been published in the Cup of Comfort for a Better WorldCup of Comfort for Adoptive Families, as well as other publications.
Christina is over-the-top about her passions, including the stories created somewhere in the twists and turns of her less-than-focused brain. When she's not writing, Christina serves on the board of Every Child Linn-Benton, a nonprofit where she has the opportunity to influence the lives of families and children in the foster care system.
On a typical day, she chases escaped farm animals, reads, hikes with her dog, and enjoys her husband and six kids. Photo Credit: © Katey Tryon

Bethany House Publishers, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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