I am actually a day late – but HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to ‘What Beauty There Is’. I received a physical ARC copy of the book to read and review. (The ARC has a stunning cover). I am posting as part of the Book Blog Tour organised by @The_WriteReads onTour Team and @PenguinUKBooks. All opinions are my own unbiased honest thoughts
Fell free to skip this section to the book blurb below – but firstly, I want to be transparent as to why this is a First Impressions post, rather than my typical full review. Unfortunately I have not had a great mental health week, not for any specific reason, but these things unfortunately happen. Personally when my mental health is not so great, I gravitate toward more fluffy, comedic things more than usual or TV/films/books I’ve seen before over and over. This is no way a reflection on this novel in the slightest. It is important to make sure you put your health first – and I will be able to give a full review of this novel at a later date when I have found a better head space.
When everything you love is in danger, how long can you keep running to survive?
Life can be brutal
Winter in Idaho. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.
Jack knew it
Jack Dahl has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d die for. Their mother is gone, and their funds are quickly dwindling. Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison.
So did I
Ava lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father, a merciless man, has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one.
Did I feed the flutter of wings when Jack and I met? Did I sense the coming tornado?
But now Ava wants to break the rules – to let Jack in and open her heart. The she discovers that Jack and her father are stalking the same money, and suddenly Ava is faced with a terrible choice: remain silent or speak out and help the brothers survive.
Looking back, I think I did…What Beauty There Is – Official Book Blurb
As I think the synopsis gives away, this story finds some emotionally dark places to go to. I feel from what I’ve said so far that is the type of novel which you find yourself heavily invested in the characters. Praying for the best outcomes for them, whilst ultimately anticipating the worst.
Very early in the story one of our main characters, Jack, is faced with an unbelievably harrowing situation relating to a suicide, which I’ll admit I found somewhat challenging to read as an adult (so with that I would recommend anyone considering this story to please ensure you have checked the trigger warnings if you experience triggers from specific topics).
Even from the very early pages, Jack has endeared himself to me. Whilst I have never experienced any life challenges on the scale of this story, I have a real love of stories that bring a sibling bond to the foreground. As an older sister myself, I believe a lot of older siblings will relate to this natural urge to protect a younger sibling in any way you can and from any horror that you’d rather not have discovered yourself. As such, in many ways I think I am most interested to see how the sibling relationship with Jack and Matty continues to develop over the course of this novel, even though I appreciate it will be Jack and Ava who are the main focus.
One thing I would really like to comment on is that I am enjoying the structure and style of the author’s writing. Typically I am far more of a fan on plot and dialogue than the language, but this has really stood out to me in a way that would make me interested to pick up any future books the author releases. So far, chapters tend to open with a few paragraphs from Ava told in first person before transitioning to a more ‘standard’ narrative. The language used manages to set a clear, vivid visual of the scenes unfolding, without falling into being overly descriptive or flowery (which I enjoy in some tales), but believe would not work well on the more desolate landscapes of the story that ‘What Beauty There Is’ is selling itself as.
It also gives a real sense of atmosphere that I am interested to know if the author carries through into their other works, or if they’re more focused on representation of the rural setting of less internationally recognised US states such as Idaho and Utah. I am looking forward to being the the frame of mind to continue on with this book, and no doubt be emotionally ruined like so many others have been on this blog tour.
About the Author
Corey Anderson is a winner of the League of Utah Writers Young Adult Novel Award and Grand Prize in the Storymakers Conference First Chapter Contest. She lives in Utah with her family. ‘What Beauty There Is’ is her debut novel.