The Beauty That Remains

Three teenagers living in the same area die unexpectedly (and within a short time of each other) of leukemia, a car wreck, and suicide. Left behind to grieve and somehow make sense of their tragedies are a twin sister, a best friend, a brother, several ex-boyfriends and an ex-girlfriend. Each one feels guilt and responsibility for the loved one who has died (“I should have gone to that party with her.” “I shouldn’t have posted that sex tape of him to get even with his leaving me for a girl.” “I should have told someone he told me he wanted to die.” “I wish I hadn’t told him I hoped he’d die alone someday.”) The stories are told in rotating chapters by three people (Autumn, Logan and Shay) with additional commentary from other characters who have also been impacted by the losses. As the book progresses, these three main characters learn how to cope and move forward through various means, including the unfailing patience and understanding of friends and parents, an adept professional therapist, a twin-less support group, and the growing awareness that those who died were far more complex than they knew and, like them, responsible for their own choices and consequences.

Halfway through the book, the lives of the three main characters start to intersect and by book’s end the relationships are clearer, but the technique of using three narrative voices just didn’t work for me. I found it confusing and gimmicky. In addition, the reviewer comments that the book is “lyrical,” “wrenching,” and “humming with poetry and song” stupefies me. The author’s excessive and repetitive use of offensive language reveals a paucity of vocabulary that dulls her dramatic voice. Was it really necessary to describe the details of Bram and Nico’s sex tape? I think not. Nor was it necessary to insert shit, fuck, whatever several times on countless pages to get the message of grief and loss across to the reader. This writer has talent but needs some more practice and a good editor.

Categories: Addiction, Death and Grieving, Depression, Diversity, Dysfunctional Relationships, Grief, LGBTQIA, Mental Health, Navigating through High School, Peer Relationships, Rock Musicians, Social Media, Suicide

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