Title: The Beauty that Remains
Author: Ashley Woodfolk
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Expected Publication Date: March 06, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Mental Illness
Rating: 4 Stars
I received an ARC copy of The Beauty that Remains in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley, as well as the Delacorte Press for this advanced copy which is expected to be released on March 06, 2018.
Dear fellow Babblers,
The Beauty that Remains is Ashley Woodfolk‘s debut novel, believe it or not. It is sure to be one of the greatest books of 2018 and that’s saying a lot given that we’ve barely walked into February. This is all that a contemporary reader looks for – LGBT awareness, suicide, depression, diversity. I’m still in awe over how deep this book has got to me. The expression and heartbreaking grief of this novel is breathtaking, as ironic as that may sound. Pain, love and struggle after loss spreads the lives of a group of teenagers who, initially seem only similarly by age and loss of a loved one, but it’s this love and loss that bring them together at the end. That, and of course, some good ‘ole rock and roll…
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.
Each of them wonders: How different would my life be if this hadn’t happened? And now that it has . . . what’s next?
Autumn, an adopted Korean-American teenager, sends her best friend, Octavia, almost every single day telling her how much she misses her and what is going on in her life and mind. This would all be just find and readers are probably wondering where I’m’ going with this. Well, problem is, Octavia is dead. She died just little while ago in a car crash. And this is the only way Autumn knows how to cope with her overwhelming grief. She feels that no one, not even Octavia’s brother’s pain, measures up to her own.
Shay and Sasha, black identical twins are no longer, as Sasha is taken away by leukemia, leaving Shay ‘twinless’. Now Shay finds her sister in her own reflection everyday and struggles to separate who she is from who her sister was. She finds short bursts of comfort in running and kissing Jerome at concerts. She feels herself fading into a dimness where as, just like Autumn, she feels that no one can understand how she feels or help her get through this period.
Logan is a peppy and sparky musician with a love for the guys. With the suicide of his ex boyfriend, Bram, that sparkle in his eyes that once lit up every show is gone. It is replaced by an alcoholic and faded depressed teenager. A boy filled with regrets, anger, unanswered questions and unexpressed feelings. He never got the chance to tell Bram sorry for having told him that he hopes Bram “dies alone.” He never got to make it up to him. And now ? His grades are slipping. He’s in danger of losing his diploma. He’s even responsible for the breakup of his band, Unraveling Lovely.
Each of these narrators lives are separate but together. Autumn tries to hold it together but breaks. The only thing that ever bring her back to life and helps her to move on without Tavia is the love and support her sister Willow, her parents, and Octavia’s brother as well as Autumn’s crush, Dante are willing to give her. However it is not until Autumnn is ready that any gestures of love from others has any effect. It is she that has to stop sending Tavia emails she knows Tavia will never receive. She has to stop blaming herself and others for her best friend’s death. And Shay also tries to hold it together but breaks. She has panic attacks in unexpected moments. She tries to set herself straight without help but falls down even deeper. It is not until she is “interventioned” by her friends, takes her mom’s advise and joins a support group, and lets her mom back into her life that she can finally move forward. Logan also tries to hold it together but breaks. He doesn’t tell anyone about his feelings of regret. He stays away from Bram’m mom and has a secret hatred for Bram’s ex girlfriend, Yara. Instead, he watches and watches again all of Bram’s vlogs, feeding into his sadness. Somehow, everything he tries to keep away from him is what gives him the strength in the end to pull through.
Autumn, Shay and Logan are separate in their struggles but together in their grief. As the story progresses the stories begin to come together and overlap. Whether it be by romance, by interest, or directly, each character’s life and grief is related by music. I loved this about the stores; music serving as an outlet to mend the character’s hearts, bringing them all together in the end.
The real problem I had was the writing style. The sentence we short and seemed a bit choppy and out of place at times. In places where I would have expected some heavy description or evocative imagery was just flat and banal. I totally get that the writer was trying to leave the language simple and easy to comprehend, as the stories were each complicated in their own right. However, I really felt as though a bit too much was sacrificed for the cause. Also, I didn’t like the way each chapter would end and then bounce to another narrator.
There doesn’t seem to be much holding all three narrator together. As a result, I couldn’t really get what one story had to do with the other until more than halfway through the book. The story itself moved and captivated me in every way possible, so far that I give it 5 stars. However, the non comprehensive and overly simplistic writing annoyed me a bit, so far that reason I’m giving The Beauty that Remains 4 stars, still an excellent rating for a new release that is sure to become a classic in the coming age with all the relevant issues it tackles – race, sexuality, and of course, my personal favorite, mental illness.
(Book image credits go to Goodreads)