What Beauty There Is
Standalone or series
First time reading this author?
Why I picked this
The description sounded interesting. A YA novel dealing with issues perhaps too dark for young adults is always something I find intriguing.
Review copy or purchase
Thank you to the author, publishers Penguin and online book club Pigeonhole for access to read this for free. This is an honest and voluntary review.
What it’s about
Jack and younger brother Matty take on drug dealers and a sinister assassin as they try to make a life for themselves after their mother’s suicide.
What a tragically beautiful, but heart-breaking story.
Jack’s father is already in prison and has been denied parole when Jack find his mother dead. The family have just been served an eviction notice and Jack takes on the responsibility of protecting little brother Matty.
This quickly becomes a journey of not survival as Jack’s attempt to get his father to tell him where proceeds from his last job, a briefcase taken from a drug gang, are hidden. Jack just wants something to give him and Matty the chance to survive. But, visiting his dad puts Jack in the crosshairs of the people his father crossed, now determined that Jack will lead them to what they are looking for.
A chance meeting at school with a beautiful but mysterious young woman called Ava, is a glimpse of light in Jack’s darkness. Ava comes to the rescue treating injuries from Jack’s encounter with them gang and giving Jack and Matty somewhere to stay. But, Ava could be the biggest threat to both Jack and Matty’s safety.
This book is beautifully written. The sadness and desperation of Jack and Matty’s situation tugs at the heart strings. Jack’s willingness to stand up for his brother, to take another hit and keep trying to make a life for them is inspiring. Particularly with a lack of role models in his own life willing to do the same for him.
Bardem, an eerily implacable assassin who comes after Jack, is truly terrifying in his calmness. There’s never any sense he can be reasoned with, so escape seems like the only answer.
There’s a lot in the tone and style of this which reminded me of Chris Whitaker’s We Begin At The End, and I think fans of that book would really enjoy this one.