The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk (March 6)
Overview: Shay, Logan, and Autumn have all recently experienced losses of people very close to them. Shay lost her sister to Leukemia, Logan lost his exboyfriend to a drug overdose, and Autumn lost her best friend in a car accident. They all feel grief for incidents they had no control over, and this book talks about their journeys to cope. While they run separately for the most part, the once famous band, Unraveling Lovely, gathers all the grieving teens together for the chance at moving forward. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 I liked all of the main characters for different reasons. At the beginning, Shay's voice was my favorite to read from. As a twin who lost her sister, she struggles with an identity crisis about who she is now. Shay is also a music blogger, something she did with her sister and friends. I loved all the touches about blogging!
Autumn's voice was an interesting insight as well, though I didn't feel like she got to shine like the others. Her narrative about dealing with the loss of a best friend, Tavia, is something that really resonates. She also struggles with how to deal with her feelings for Dante, Tavia's brother, especially since she's learned he feels the same. They both feel guilt about what happened, like they could have prevented tragedy, and the way they work through it together with push and pull is wonderful. Sadly, this narrative was bogged down the many extra characters and sometimes friends that cluttered Autumn's life.
Finally, Logan was my favorite. He stood out from the girls with his distinct voice, and I found his storyline by far the most compelling. I feel that Logan really explored the full cycle of grief from self destructive behaviors to trying to create a new, removed life and then going to therapy to address his feelings of loss. I also felt like I really got to know who Bram, his exboyfriend, was as a person, and that allowed me to form a connection I didn't have with the other characters.
The three character point of views did feel necessary, as for most of the book, it is three, entirely separate stories. Though the characterscape felt cluttered at times, the main characters meshed well with one another.
Plot: 4 I found the stories to be engaging. Though there could have been some clearer links between our three stories, I really liked how all of the stories worked towards a beautiful, satisfying, shared epilogue.
Writing: 4 On the whole, I felt that this story was strong. I love the idea of showing so many different kinds of grief and how there are so many ways to cope with it. There were some truly lovely passages that I would like to go back and highlight. Unfortunately, there were moments that I felt could have been edited a bit better to maximize the effect, and I felt that the theme of using music to work through grief felt forced at some points. I did enjoy, though, the band Unraveling Lovely's story role with all of these POVs. As it involved Shay's friend Rohan, Autumn's boyfriend Dante, and Logan, the band's life road the ups and downs of their grief as well. The musical aspect shown strongly there.
*I received this ARC via NetGalley thanks to the generosity of Random House Childrens for free in exchange for an honest review.*
Links Of Interest:
Not If I See You First: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2018/02/not-if-i-see-you-first.html
Winner Take All: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2018/02/winner-take-all.html
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