What Beauty There Is – Blog Tour
Welcome to my stop on the What Beauty There Is blog tour! Thanks to the publisher @Penguin and Dave @WriteReadsTours for gifting me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. The synopsis didn’t grip me straight away but I am so pleased I agreed to review this book at it is so much more than I expected. I am looking forward to reading book two! This time however, I will have the tissues ready.
Title: What Beauty There Is
Author: Cory Anderson
Published: 6th April 2021
Age Range: Young Adult
Trigger Warnings: Murder, suicide, poverty, childhood abuse/trauma, addiction, violence
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“Winter. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.
Jack Morton has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d do anything for. Even die for. Now with their mother gone, and their funds 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. He chooses the money.
Ava Bardem lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one. Trust no one. Now Victor Bardem is stalking the same money as Jack. When he picks up Jack’s trail, Ava must make her own wrenching choice: remain silent or help the brothers survive.”
What Beauty There Is is an atmospheric and hard-hitting novel set in the quiet landscape of Idaho. Loneliness permeates the novel but it’s characters still dream of a world where they will smile again. The isolation is hard on two young boys who only have each other. Anderson examines the harsh realities of rural life, childhood trauma and what it truly means to be a survivor. Be prepared for a very raw story.
The main characters in the book are Jack, Matty and Ava. Jack is 17 and quickly becomes the sole care-giver to his younger brother Matty. Their sibling dynamic is very tender, natural and realistic. We learn quickly that Jack will do whatever he can to give Matty the normal life he deserves. Ava’s life has been no better and the decisions she has to make in the novel are so layered and complicated because of it. She has been taught not to love or trust by her dangerous and controlling father.
There are so many times in the novel when your heart breaks for these kids because of the trauma they have experienced. Ava has one particular line which simply broke me. You just want someone to give them a break so they can be normal kids instead of being intertwined with their parents complicated existences. I won’t talk about the two fathers that feature in the novel here as I think discovering the characters for yourself is an important part of the story.
The novel is beautifully written and is written from multiple perspectives but initially focuses on Jack. Each chapter has an introduction from Ava, which provide an insight into her thoughts and introduces events that take place before the start of the novel. Initially I found these sections a little confusing, that is until we meet Ava and then it clicked into place. The stand out feature of the novel is the world building as it is so lyrical & atmospheric. You really get lost in Jack’s world, even when it isn’t a pleasant place to be. The pacing is very good and as the events of the novel unfold it picks up to match the action.
What Beauty There Is is a hauntingly beautiful tale that will submerge you into a vivid, dark world and keep you turning the pages. Although I am not a regular reader of YA thrillers, this was such a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting to be engrossed so quickly! I would not recommend this book to readers that are sensitive to violence and highly recommend checking out any trigger warnings before starting the novel. It certainly isn’t an easy read in terms of content as it is very hard hitting. The story itself is gripping, well paced and I desperately rooted for the main characters. If you like dark, intense thrillers that are an emotional rollercoaster then I highly recommend What Beauty There Is.