Thank you, Random House Children’s, for giving me a free, digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect going into this novel. Initially, it was the cover that drew me in. Then I read the synopsis, and as I’m currently trying to read more contemporaries, I requested this from NetGalley. This book is about loss and heartbreak, grief and pain, and working through who you are when the people you love the most are gone. I probably would have liked this more 13 years ago, but I’m glad it’s here for those who need it now.
Title: The Beauty That Remains
Author: Ashley Woodfolk
Publisher: Delacorte Press (Random House Children’s)
Expected release date: March 6, 2017
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Length: 352 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.
Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.
But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.
Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.”
I haven’t lost someone the way Shay, Autumn, or Logan have, so I can’t speak for how authentic their feelings are, but damn, did they hurt. Each character is incredibly three-dimensional, and you feel yourself hurting, breaking, and rediscovering right along with them. And not only is it just these characters who grieve, but there are family members and friends, like everyone is lost in a cavernous sea with only a life jacket to save them. What’s crazy is that we don’t see how these three main characters are connected until later in the story.
There’s a lot of positives here: positive therapist/client relationship, developing relationship between mother and daughter, reconciling friendships and building relationships that were once broken, and a positive approach to mental health.
I enjoyed the writing as well, but if I’m being incredibly honest, I found myself reading this book just so I could finish it. I feel a bit guilty after I finished reading it, because I felt like this could have been given to someone who needed to read about characters like Shay, Autumn, and Logan. If I were their age, I would have wanted to be them, especially Shay who is incredibly deep into the local music scene–something I pined after when I was in high school.
I questioned a handful of things. Autumn is Korean, adopted by an American family, but she fit into the “quiet Asian girl” role. Those words are actually said a few times throughout the book in reference to Autumn. I don’t like the stereotype, but I think Autumn was this way because of her relationship with her friend, Octavia, and things begin to change as the story progresses, and gives me hope that she will learn about and grow into herself more. But I was fun to see Autumn’s family try to keep the connection to her Korean heritage alive, like cooking Korean food.
I look forward to see what else Woodfolk writes. It’s heart-wrenching and provocative.