Book Review | What Beauty There Is @WriteReadsTours

Having one of those weeks where everything has snuck up on me all of a sudden and there aren’t enough hours in the day, which means this is a halfway review…well it was, I’m glad I made the time to finish this one.

What Beauty There Is
Cory Anderson

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 feel 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. Then 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 . . .

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What Beauty There Is will be published on the 8th April 2021

You can tell from the first chapter of this book that it is the kind of story that is going to pack an emotional punch, from the outset it is bleak and its cold wintery setting reinforces the atmosphere of the book, this is a story about survival in the harshest of conditions.

There is something fascinating about Jack though that really draws you into the story even though it was easy to see that by the end of the book I was probably going to be an emotional wreck, I couldn’t help but want to read more. The odds are pretty stacked against Jack from the start but he is such a resilient and resourceful character even when faced with life-changing decisions, I love his relationship with his brother Matty, that even though he has cause to be worried for both of them his focus is not on himself it’s on making sure that Matty is safe and protected.

Ava is also an interesting character, there are narrative introductions to each chapter that are written from her perspective and I really liked them because they set the tone for each chapter whilst also building a slow suspense, almost like counting down knowing that there is a limited amount of time before something bad happens. She is the kind of character who makes you question her motivations at first, even though we get some snippets from her she still has an air of mystery.

There is one character who encapsulates evil in this book and to be honest for most of the book he seems insurmountable, it is hard to see how Jack and Ava will overcome this character as he is clever and calculated and doesn’t play by anyone’s rules but his own. Sometimes with this kind of character when it comes to the end of the book I feel like they are let off too easily which can leave the end a bit of a disappointment, however, I didn’t feel like this was the case with this book, it is left kind of open but in a satisfying way.

I have to say this is not an easy book to read, it is at times extremely harsh and at points can be gruesome, but for me the relationships between Jack, Ava and Matty balance it out and show that even when the world seems at its worst there are still beautiful moments to be found. This is definitely reflected in the exquisite writing it really captures the setting and the relationships perfectly but reads in such an easy and captivating way.

I really enjoyed this book and loved getting lost in this haunting and thrilling story; even though the subject matter wasn’t always easy to read, I appreciated getting to experience it through characters that provided hope and a look at what loves means in hard times. What Beauty There Is kept me guessing, played on all of my emotions and left me wanting more, this is the kind of book that definitely gives you a book hangover, the characters and the story have been on my mind for quite a while since reading.

Cory 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.

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