Thank you to The Write Reads for allowing me to be part of this blog tour.
What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson
Published By: Penguin
Released: 8th April 2021
CAWPILE Rating: 7.0 / 4 ★
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Trigger warnings: suicide, drug use, murder, addiction, blood, abuse, violence.
YA Thrillers are sort of my thing at the moment, and I just can’t get enough of them. So, when I heard about What Beauty There Is, I knew I had to read it. Just from reading the synopsis, I had a feeling it was going to be a book that I would be both intrigued by and addicted to.
Jack Dahl has nothing left, except his little brother Matty, who he’d do anything for. Their father is in prison and their mother is gone, and the little money they do have is running low. Realising that Matty will be taken into care if he doesn’t do something, Jack chooses to find the drug money that sent his father to prison. Ava is being controlled by her criminal father and has been isolated for seventeen years. Her father has controlled her and she trusts no one. However, when Ava meets Jack she starts to realise that she could maybe open her heart to him. What she doesn’t realise, is that her father and Jack are chasing the same drug money.
This was a tense, gripping read that also packs an emotional punch and does leave you teary-eyed at parts. You honestly become so invested in the story and these characters that you start to feel a personal connection to them, and you start rooting for them to get their happy ending, despite everything. I found it hard to put this book down at times, and even when I did, I found myself thinking about the characters and their stories. What Beauty There Is will most certainly break your heart, even if you don’t get emotionally impacted by stories.
.The plot itself was fast-paced and took place over a few days. This, in turn, was one of the reasons why I found it so hard to put down. Almost every chapter had action within it and ended on a cliffhanger, which was so compelling and addicting. The dual storytelling between Jack and Ava allowed you to get into both character’s heads and understand what both characters were going through and see their conflicted emotions. I love dual narration when it is done right, and in What Beauty There Is, this was executed perfectly. I feel that if this was told just through the eyes of one character it wouldn’t have had the same effect on the reader. Throughout the story, there are also many twists and turns, and you honestly don’t see the climax coming. As soon as I’d reached the end, my mouth was wide open in shock and disbelief, so much so that I felt broken.
The relationship between Jack and Matty was both heartwarming, and devastating to read about. Both boys had been through such a lot in such a short time, and you just wanted to pick them up and look after them both. Jack’s determination to protect Matty is brotherly love at its finest, and you can tell how much he loves him. Matty is naive, and at times doesn’t understand what is going on, and it’s up to Jack to reassure him that everything will be okay. Jack and Ava’s relationship was one that I felt never really got going, and due to the fast-paced nature of the story, I felt like we didn’t get to see it blossom. It all seemed to move a bit too fast for me. I would’ve liked to have seen more scenes with just the two of them, so we could understand their relationship a bit better.
What Beauty There Is was an intense, thrilling read that gripped me. Its accelerating, adrenaline-inducing plot made for exciting reading, and I cannot wait to read more from Cory Anderson in the future.
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.