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About this book
- Winner of the Book Design Award at the 2018 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!
Karen Hofmann’s empathetic and cathartic novel, What is Going to Happen Next, pieces together the lives of five members of the Lund family following their enforced dispersal after the death of the father and the hospitalization of the mother in the remote West Coast community of Butterfly Lake. It explores their self-doubts and aspirations in the ways they cope with their separation and reunion through their work and personal relationships, and reveals the ways in which their past is filtered through memory and desire. It also skillfully exposes a Vancouver class system from the perspectives of diverse socio-economic conditions and lifestyles.
What is Going to Happen Next is character-driven and well-wrought, with a tenderness that propels the reader forward alongside the Lunds who are learning to fuse together as a chosen family.
Excerpt from “Before”
What happens next next, as Che would say, is this: Jean the social worker divides them all up. This is a shock to Cleo, who had assumed they would just stay, and neighbours would help out, at least for the present. That they would continue on as before. But no.
Che goes home with Myrna Pollard, who is suddenly in their yard, wringing her hands and sniffling. When Cleo hears this being arranged, she asks, Why not Bodhi too? He’s used to Myrna. But Jean says Myrna Pollard’s place isn’t suitable for a very young child. Cleo can see that. There aren’t railings anymore on her second-floor deck—Myrna’s husband Keith took them down a couple of years ago to replace the rotted boards, and hasn’t got them up again—and there’s also a large hole in the Pollard’s yard where Keith took out the old septic tank.
But Myrna has been babysitting Bodhi since spring. And she’s handy, right next door.
What Cleo hasn’t thought out, hasn’t realized, is that she, Cleo won’t be at this house. She wouldn’t be near Myrna Pollard’s place, even if Bodhi were there.
Then she understands that Mandalay has been nailing the future shut for all of them. Telling her stories, enjoying the attention, not seeing, as Cleo can see, that she is making sure that Crystal will never be able to come back. Cleo can see it in the social worker’s expression. Mandalay doesn’t get it. She doesn’t see that they need Crystal, that without Crystal, they will not be able to live here again, ever.
Jean says that for now Mandalay and Bodhi will stay with the family of a friend of Mandalay’s, in town. And Cleo and Cliff will be taken into temporary care: which means, to go live with strangers. This is all being decided by Jean and Mandalay.
Cleo says, Why can’t we just stay here? And at that Jean makes a squinchy shape with her mouth and says, No, that wouldn’t be possible. Even though Cleo has been taking care of everything already, even though it could be okay if Mandalay would help out more.
Mandalay says, Cleo. How can we take care of everyone, without parents? And then crumples prettily, like someone in movies, into tears again.
There had been temporary arrangements, and then more permanent ones. They had not had much choice in what happened to them, though they had made things worse for themselves, definitely, by what they had done after Dadda’s funeral. You’ve really cooked your goose now, Myrna Pollard had said, that day.
And of course Mandalay hadn’t got to keep Bodhi after all. None of them had.
"An incisive and deeply satisfying novel about the muscle memory of
the human heart."
“Karen Hofmann’s What is Going to Happen Next is not another gloomy Can-Lit family saga but a familiar portrait of our neighbours and friends—maybe of ourselves—weathering the effects of far distant adversity with the same halting, human grace we all share.”
“A compassionate and insightful novel about siblings and the bonds they forge. Hofmann interweaves their stories with assurance, rich detail, and heart.”
"It’s a novel that’s as original as it is ambitious, and it works, resulting in an all-engrossing visceral reading experience, and I’m recommending it to everyone." full review
"The characters as so unique from one another, each with a distinct voice and personality.... I would highly recommend this wonderful piece of Canadian fiction." full review
"To say that this novel is a delight is an understatement. The characters live and breathe."
"As a family saga, the novel is empathetic, compassionate, and expertly paced." full review