BLOG TOUR – What Next by Shari Low (What If #3)

I’ve followed the lives of Carly and her crew since the first in this series, and though I’ve enjoyed each of the books, I’d say this is definitely my favourite!

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a light-hearted fun romp across America taken by Carly, Carol, Jess and the inimitable Aunty Val. Shari Low has definitely stepped things up a notch with this one. The ‘girls’ are now quite a few years older than in the previous books. In fact, they’re what would be termed ‘middle-aged’ And with that come a few hard-hitting realizations.

Carly has reached the point where she has finally promised to join her divine hubby Sam, living in LA, but truthfully … she’s petrified! Carol (married to Carly’s brother Callum), living an enviable, golden life, emblazoned across social media for all to see, suddenly just isn’t ‘feeling it’ any more, and has no idea why. Tough go-getter Jess has just discovered that the love of her life, Arnie, is not who she thought he was, and has decided to make a break for it! And just when they think they each think they’ve decided what their next steps will be, Aunty Val arrives with a huge announcement that surprises them all and changes their plans completely.

I loved reading about the journey they all embark on together, even though it’s all really bittersweet. Each one of these ladies is so real (although I think I’m a little bit scared of Jess!) and their strong bond is really enviable. Shari Low does a fabulous job getting to the heart of female friendship. She knows exactly how it feels to see that something’s ‘not quite right’ with the people closest to you, but then not to know how to approach it. And she also knows what makes a great ‘bucket list’!

I found some parts of the story really heartbreaking – mostly Val’s perspective. As loud and overbearing as she comes across, it’s so hard for her to be putting on a brave face all the time without her bestie Josie, not to mention the fact that she knows the coming months will be a huge challenge for her. She’s just so likeable and the way the author has written her character allows you to gain a deep empathy for those in similar situations and an understanding of how it feels to age, when you still have so much living to do!

Each chapter is narrated by a different character, and once I’d figured out who was who each time, I got into the rhythm of the book. Some tough issues are dealt with sensitively and without drama or too much explanation and back-and-forth. I’d definitely suggest reading the first 2 books before reading this one, for context. This is a really great 4 star read.

Thanks to Rachels Random Resources and Boldwood Books for the Blog Tour.

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