Welcome! My name is Taylor, and I like books. A lot. In this bi-weekly column I’m going to be reviewing the books I read so you can decide if you want to read them too. Some books may be old, some may be new, some may have been sitting on my bookshelf for months, collecting dust as I think “Crap, I really should have read that by now.”
You can add me on Goodreads to find out what I’m reading all year long. Now, on to the review!
I talk a lot about how much I love it when YA novels deal with serious, sometimes intimidating issues. Things like death and loss and unthinkable tragedy don’t happen just to adults, they happen to everybody. That’s why I think YA novels that face these issues head-on are so necessary. It’s imperative we have art that speaks directly to the unique struggles of young people handling emotionally devastating experiences.
The Beauty That Remains does just that. It centers around Autumn, Shay, and Logan, three high-schoolers who have all witnessed death and devastation in their own ways. Each has lost someone close to them, and whether that someone was a sibling, friend, or significant other is not as important as the fact that they each are struggling to cope in the aftermath of a tragedy. They have panic attacks or turn to alcohol, they isolate themselves from friends and family, they yell and fight and argue. They grieve and they slowly fall apart.
But what’s so remarkable about this novel–and what makes it a worthwhile read despite the tough subject matter, which I’ll get to in a moment– is the exploration into the remnants those passed leave behind. Their passion for music, maybe, or the way they made a significant other feel beautiful and loved can last after death, as we learn through the main characters. We learn it might just be possible to grieve without falling apart, that we can turn to other loved ones, ask for help, and create something beautiful out of the remnants of those we lost.
Now, The Beauty That Remains is a difficult read. It was definitely hard for me to get into. It’s not a bad novel, of course, but there’s a lot going on emotionally here. Proceed with caution if you in any way are struggling to cope with your own trauma/tragedy. This could be upsetting or potentially triggering. If you think you can mentally and emotionally handle the subject matter, though, please read this. It might touch a nerve, but it could also easily comfort you and remind you that– cue cheesy music– you’re not alone.
Another great aspect of the novel is its diversity. So many different types of people are represented and intertwined throughout it, which makes everything seem so much more real. Again, it’s a reminder that grief affects every single one of us, no matter our sexuality, ethnicity, race, or family type.
Let the record show that I loved the ending of this book. Some things work out, but not everything. Nobody is suddenly completely happy again. But, each of the main characters starts to slowly piece their lives back together again, and they all find ways to heal through music and friendship. At one point, Shay thinks, “I think I could love a boy who makes me feel so okay about being happy and sad at the same time.” Happiness and sadness woven together, experiencing grief and loss but loving again in spite of the pain– that’s beauty.
TW’s for The Beauty That Remains: Anxiety, drug/alcohol use, death, suicide.
Disclaimer: An ARC of this novel was sent to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the review in any way.