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 . . .
Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness, Meg Rosoff and Daniel Woodrell, What Beauty There Is an unforgettable debut novel that is as compulsive as it is beautiful, and unflinchingly explores the power of determination, survival and love.
‘Beautifully written and superbly constructed, Anderson pulls you onto a chilling footpath of love and loss and keeps you there until you’ve read every last word’ Ruta Sepetys, bestselling author of Between Shades of Grey
What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson hit me with its cold, hard, evilness. Yet, it hit me even harder with the purity of the beauty that was found amongst that evil.
Ava tells the story. She introduces each chapter with first-person reflections that hold much foreshadowing in an ethereally beautiful manner. When read separately from the story, these reflections broke my heart with their contemplative truth. Those short introductions are her story and her story alone as she reflects on her journey that led to a precipice. At that precipice, she decided whether to back away or leap forward, as we all must when facing big choices and insurmountable truths.
Ava tells Jack’s story over the nine days when their lives intersected. She lets the reader see the story in a third-person focused narration from Jacks’ POV. And what a story it is. Jack’s father is in jail. His mother committed suicide as the story begins (trigger warning), leaving Jack and his little brother Matty to fend for themselves in a house with no heat, power, or hot water. Life is harsh, only to be made worse when Jack is forced to confront the evil’s that his father has unleashed on all of them.
Amid indescribable evil, Jack meets Ava and discovers, as the title says, what beauty there is. In her, he finds a spark of love that he has never known before. Jack discovers a world devoid of evil and full of compassion and all that is good. He realizes not only a love for her but for his brother, a part of himself that he dared not acknowledge before.
The story is told in such a beautifully descriptive manner. Ava explains that she remembers her time with Jack through sensory descriptions – vivid colors, the sound of his voice, the smell of him, and the warmth she feels when near. As a result, I noticed that the story impacted all my senses, which put me right there in the thick of things.
The evilness of Victor Bardem, Ava’s father, is unparalleled. He is the most thoroughly evil character that I have ever encountered, without any shred of remorse or explanation of how he could be that way. Most evil characters have a psychosis that gives the reader hope for their redemption with treatment, but not Victor. His evilness is as pure as the love and beauty Ava and Jack discover with one another.
This story will hold you in its grip and compel you forward with its many thrills and suspenseful moments. Then it will touch your very soul with its bittersweet message.
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.
(Extended bio and additional author images available on her website. Link Below)