The Beauty That Remains

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

I absolutely adore the diversity of this book! Overall I didn't feel like there was quite enough substance to the story. I'm sure it's tricky to write about grief without become redundant so I applaud the autho for attempting to portray 3 characters very different ways of grieving. The writing was lovely but I still felt emotionally detached. This was a strong debut but not my favorite. I'll still be picking up the authors next book as soon as it comes out!
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I read this book cold - with no background, no idea what I was getting into. Immediately, the book stunned me with its portrayal of grief and loss. I read an advance copy, and will be adding this book to my classroom library as soon as possible! (Lately, I've had lots of students asking for "sad books").
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If someone asked now, “What does love look like?” I’d tell them it was the lies in your eyes.

Books centred on tragedies usually fall in one of three categories for me – either the fall completely flat, or they leave me curled up in under my blanket sobbing my eyes out or they devastate me, and still leave me with hope.

The Beauty That Remains definitely left me in the last category. Ashley Woodfolk’s deep and haunting debut novel reminded me of Adam Silvera’s writing, along with one of my favourite elements in books (that we rarely see) – music – and I fell in love with it.

MY THOUGHTS: 

1. I love way this book was told. We had three narrators, and some incredibly developed secondary characters, each of whom were experiencing the devastating loss of a friend, ex or sister and it was their journey to reaching some kind of acceptance, through music.

2. I struggled to keep up with all the characters in the beginning of this book. All of them were equally important from each narrator, to the person they each lost, to their support systems, but THERE WERE TOO MANY PEOPLE thrown at me in the beginning.

3. Ashley Woodfolk’s writing was spectacular. It was slow paced, but really dove into the unbearable grief each teenager felt. It was heart-breaking, poignant and I am A HUGE FAN.

4. The cast was diverse and inclusive and I LOVED IT. Just off the top of my head, we had Asian rep, Hispanic rep and Gay rep and it dealt with depression, coping mechanisms, therapy and panic attacks with such finesse.

5. I honestly connected with Logan and Bram’s story right from the get go, and I was desperately craving more.

6. The only reason this book isn’t receiving a five star rating from me was that there was no definitive ending. I understand that you never truly finish grieving, but this book felt unfinished in a way I can’t fully explain.

A spectacularly written book on loss that will make you feel. 4 stars.
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Thanks so much to Netgalley and Delacorte Press for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Trigger Warnings: Death of a sibling, death of a best friend, death of an ex-boyfriend, suicide, leukemia, alcoholism, mentions of drug dealing, marijuana use, death of a queer character.

Plot: Told from the perspective of three teenagers, all of whom have experienced the loss of a loved one. Autumn lost her best friend, Shay her twin sister, and Logan the boy he loved. They’re navigating grief each their own way, and are reunited by their love for one band’s music. 

I often hear about how people find contemporary novels formulaic and clichéd, and while a lot of it boils down to taste, I think some it also depends on the kind of contemporary novels people are reaching out to read. For skeptics of the genre, I invite you to give Ashley Woodfolk’s debut YA novel a shot. It tackles grief in such a profound way while delving into the many complicated and flawed things that make us so human.

The three main characters, along with the secondary characters, are all linked to each other via their connections to a local indie band called Unraveling Lovely. Autumn’s best friend Tavia dies in a car accident while driving to a party, and Autumn is racked with guilt because she was supposed to accompany her to the party and chose not to at the last minute. Her coping mechanism involves spending all her time she can at Tavia’s house, particularly with Tavia’s brother Dante, and emailing her constantly. Her grief seems immeasurable and she doesn’t think anyone else’s, not even Dante’s, can even compare. Shay’s left ‘twinless’ after losing her sister Sasha, who’d succumbed to the leukemia she’d been suffering with since the age of 11. The twins, along with a couple of their friends run a music reviewing blog, and Sasha is constantly reminded of Shay from every queued blog post, and every time someone else, including their mother, looks at her. Like Autumn, she’s in place where she feels nobody can possibly understand what she’s going through. Logan struggles with grief and guilt over the loss of his ex-boyfriend Bram, and blames himself for some things he said to him as their relationship was ending. He feels responsible and struggles with a lot of “what ifs”, wondering if he’d contributed to Bram’s depression and consequent death by suicide. Logan’s depression lead him to alcoholism that resulted in the breaking up of Unraveling Lovely, of which he was a member. Now, he harbors resentment for Bram’s girlfriend Yara and leans on watching Bram’s vlogs as he grieves for the person he loves. 

The three teens are narrators of their own stories, and while their losses are separate, their grief brings them together. As the stories develop, we’re shown how their lives overlap and intersect. They each lean on their love for music, even when sometimes it doesn’t seem enough. This is a poignant thread that ties together all of them and the book itself, as the characters otherwise don’t have anything else holding them together. However, the story in itself such an emotional and captivating one, and I think these connections, fragile as they are, just speak to how grieving can be both an individual and universal experience all at once. 

The writing style in itself is pretty simplistic- lots of short sentences with strong, distinguishable narrators. I thought this worked well for a story that was fraught with so many emotions and the writing didn’t distract from that. In the end, you’re not left with characters that are completely healed with all their issues resolved and closure experienced, rather, you’re shown the significant effects of the tiny steps taken towards the beginnings of their healing process, with the help of good and necessary support systems. These strong themes of love, loss, pain, and hope will surely resonate with the book’s target audience, many of whom need books like these to feel a little less alone as they navigate a complicated world and tumultuous emotional spaces. 

Overall, a phenomenally strong debut offering a perspective on grief that stays with you even after you’ve finished reading the book. If you’ve known me a while you know that I inhale stories that tackle grief, loss, and pain, especially realistic stories, so this book was tailor-made for me and has officially made it high up the favorites-of-2018 list. Fans of Adam Silvera and Nina LaCour, consider this me shoving this book in your hands.
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'Then we just set there, silent and lonely for you together, because hellos are nice and neat and so much easier than goodbyes'.

The debut novel by Ashley Woodfolk, The Beauty that Remains published by Delacorte Press is a poetic story written and told for the teenagers facing nowadays death more openly and frequently that it used to happen not as far as ten years ago. Shared through social media, death, including in its violent form, is more obtrusive and visually common nowadays, but the pain and mystery surrounding death remains. Regardless the age, we still cope with understanding death, and when young people at the beginning of their lives are taken away, often violently, the words are silent. We are trying to replace their absence through memories, Instagram pictures or emotions. And there is also music, as a way in which the protagonists of the stories of love and life after loss in the book are trying to fill up the void of the friends who are no more. More than words that are lying - 'Lying is the new language we speak. It's the only way we can talk at all' - , music is a way to continue telling the story, in the best, strongly emotional way. Each and every particular story shared is full of emotions and impressive in its simplicity, while connecting the dots of the hardships of advancing through adulthood. 

The perspective shared are belonging completely of teenagers as the aimed audience is made of them. Maybe as adults we may find a lot of the stories and the pace unattractive, but once we keep in mind the aimed audience, we will realize that in fact it makes a lot of sense to just put on the side the over-critical perspective given probably also by the life experince and focus on the emotional challenges of the young adults coping with the loss of someone they love, the same age as them, not necessarily family. The feeling of breaking up while challanged by the lack of answers because life is still too young to offer the necessary emotional and intellectual support to create our own support stories. If we keep in mind that reference, we will clearly appreciate the fine and elegant writing of Ashley Woodfolk, which makes the book a great addition to a reading list for teenagers, because it calibrates the voice and the messages to young people looking for way too many answers to painful questions. 

Woodfolk succeeded to be well connected to the realities, without neglecting the quality of the writing and with the promise of creating even more such beautiful books. The Beauty that Remains is that kind of book that will for sure keep your young adult a little bit away from social media or that will at least prompt them to create a meaningul Instagram post.
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Grief takes center stage for each of the narrators in The Beauty That Remains. Autumn doesn't know how to return to school and her friend group after her best friend's death, Shay is lost without her twin sister, and after the death of his ex-boyfriend Logan no longer can write out his emotions in a song. Each character has a connection to music, one band specifically. 

While each narrator unravels in his or her own way, music plays an integral role in calming him or her. Readers will root for these characters to learn how to live again, even after suffering the life-changing loss of a loved one. 

THOUGHTS: Fans of compelling, grief-stricken books will appreciate the experience of each teen who is learning to live with a close loss. I've read a lot of sad books over the past year. Give this one to fans of Zentner's Goodbye Days, Armentrout's If There's No Tomorrow, Ramey's The Sister Pact, Biren's The Last Thing You Said, Hart's After the Fall, Brashares's The Whole Thing Together, and Bateman's Someone Else's Summer. Some drug use and underage drinking make this title more suited for high school readers.
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I don’t enjoy reading about death. It’s a topic that makes it difficult for me to truly enjoy the story—mostly because I’m often questioning the need to use it as a plot driver. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this debut by Ashley Woodfolk.

Logan, Autumn, and Shay are all dealing with a loss. Each of them in a manner that is their own, but all are struggling to find a way to mend their hearts without breaking themselves. 

Logan is the most tortured, and destructive, of the three. His anger and guilt lead him to drugs and alcohol. You feel his pain, and understand his longing, but you also cheer for him and want so much for him to find redemption.

Autumn finds solace in a new love, but said relationship complicates her healing process in unexpected ways. She’s consumed by the “what ifs”, and feels adrift in a world where she placed much of her identity in a friend she now has to let go.

Shay is the character to whom I was most drawn.Her heartbreaking loss has placed her in emotional limbo, and that’s something she understands she’ll always have to navigate. 

She has a great group of friends, but grief is something twe all work through in different ways—and Shay isn’t sure she has the tools, or the strength, to overcome the brokenness loss has left behind. 

She’s a beautiful character, and the one I definitely was the most proud to see come to life in this story. 

There isn’t one character that wasn’t lovingly rendered. Even the ones who weren’t central to the plot (Perry, Shay’s mother, DeeDee, Aden, etc.) felt beautifully real and sentient. 

I loved that. 

Ashley Woodfolk has produced a fabulous debut, on an exceedingly tough topic, and she’s done so with the proper amount of empathy and care. 

It’s a tough read, but it’s a beautiful one.
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The Beauty That Remains is such a beautiful debut novel. It focuses on grief in a unique and fresh way. The writing is raw and emotional. It's not often you find a YA novel about grief with such an engaging plot. The characters are marvelous. Highly recommended to readers looking for something fresh in YA contemporary fiction especially those looking for a novel on grief.
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Description:


Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death might pull them apart. 

Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan has always turned to writing love songs when his real love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan is a guy who can't stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger who's struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band's music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

My Thoughts:
It seems like there is too much teenage death in this society, as in this book. Granted, none of the dead teens was killed by a school shooter, but there are three characters who tell the story of three dead teens. One died in a single car crash, one committed suicide and one died of cancer. However, 

I actually tried to finish the book, fell asleep and dreamt about one of the characters. That is always a sign of good writing. 

Woodfolk switches characters for each of the chapters, so it is like listening to three different albums at once until I finally realize that no, I am listening to the same album, through different entry points and it is not until I am almost finished with the album that I realize what the music is trying to say. 

So what is it saying? Grief is heart breaking in many different ways. Time is different, interventions are different, healing is different. Perhaps the music brings the different characters together in the end, but the beauty that remains is not the music, but the acceptance by those left behind that it's ok to live.
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Loved this book!! 

This book took some tough issues and executed it perfectly!

Shay and Sasha are twin sisters who share an amazing bond. Unfortunately, Sasha dies from her illness. Now Shay is left alone. Then you have Logan who is a great musician with his boyfriend by his side nothing can go wrong. But then he loses Bram. Then you have Autumn and her best friend Octavia, however, Octavia isn't really here either. 

These three characters have all lost someone in the worst way. Each of them is dealing with this loss differently and not one is the same. Losing the ones they loved meant losing music too. Music no longer holds life together and each will need support and love from those around them to help heal and put the pieces back together. 

Each story will hit your emotions. Perfectly written and a book you won't soon forget.
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The Beauty that Remains is a gorgeously written book about loss, grief, and finding comfort in music. Ashley Woodfolk created three distinct and dynamic main characters who are all dealing with their own tragic losses. One character is grieving for a twin sister, another for a best friend, and another for an ex-boyfriend. Each character is connected to a, now broke up, local band. Throughout the story, the three main characters connections become clearer and their stories intertwine. Woodfolk writes so candidly about love and how to move forward with your life when someone you love is gone. Though each main character is dealing with the death of a loved one, they struggle and fight to move on in their own way. Each character has their own support systems and methods of coping . 

Woodfolk also created a diverse cast of characters. The Beauty That Remains has black main characters, an adopted Korean-American character, and a gay character. Each character talks about how their racial or sexual identity influences their lives and acceptance into the music scene. Shay, a music blogger, was often the only black teen in the crowd at the pop punk shows she loves. Woodfolk has provided some badly needed representation featuring kids of all colors in this music scene inspired YA novel. 

Readers of Jeff Zentner, Adam Silvera, and Sarah Dessen will love this heartbreaking book.
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Thank you to Delacorte Press and Netgalley for the advance Kindle copy of this book. Pre-reading helps develop a middle school library’s collection like you wouldn’t believe! This gem is out TOMORROW! (3/6/18)
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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for this heartbreaking novel about grief. I will be honest, at first I was all, “where is this going?”!The story is told in alternating voices, with each character having lost someone close to them. Autumn’s best friend was killed in a car crash. Logan lost his ex-boyfriend to suicide. Shay’s twin sister died from complications related to leukemia. As they struggle to come to terms with their losses and life without their loved ones, a common thread just might bring them together. Once I got going, I was a true believer in this book. It’s perfect for fans of Jeff Zentner and Adam Silvera.
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Highly recommended for high school collections.
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The Beauty That Remains is Ashley Woodfolks debut novel. It covers a variety of subject such as death, depression, LGBT and suicide. There is a great deal of grief and loss in this novel. Woodfolk does an exemplary job and expressing the deep and profound emotions that come with the loss of a love, emotion's that one doesn't understand until they have lost someone themselves.


Woodwork can capture emotions. I wanted desperately to love her novel but I struggled to connect with the storylines. There was just way too much going on and I found myself constantly trying to determine which character was telling their story. It took me nearly half the book before I was able to catch the cadence of her writing and the voice of her characters. Once I got past the struggle, I found myself much more involved in their stories and found the book to be more enjoyable.


The characters are Autumn, who's best friend, Octavia passed away in a tragic accident. Autumn struggles with this loss and as a means to heal and cope with the death of her friend, she continues to send her messages, spend the night in her (Octavia's) bedroom and form a bond with her brother.


Logan's ex-boyfriend, Bram is dead. He is full of regrets as his last words to Bram were harsh. He deals with his grief and guilty by consuming alcohol, being self destructive and unkind to his mind and body. Music is both his respite and pain. 


Shay's twin sister, Sasha's life was taken too soon as a result of leukemia, leaving Shay "twinless" and alone. She struggles to cope with living her life without taking care of sister and having that constant in her life. Running, kissing and music are her coping mechanisms. Her struggles are further combated with the weakened relationship she has with her mom.


All of these stories are told separately but weave together. They overlap and music becomes the common factor in mending broken hearts. 


I personally feel that this book would have been a lot stronger had there been more depth and background into the characters. It fell flat some but not horrible for a debut novel. I would give Woodfolk a second chance because the passion and ability to develop characters it there.


Don' t totally rule this book out, give it some time to tell you it's story and you will find that it is worth your time.
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Three people, each suffering heartbreaking losses, meet through the power of music. And this is what I loved most about The Beauty that Remains: the way Ashley Woodfolk shows the depth and breadth of the healing power of music.

The problem is that I couldn't really form a connection to the characters, at least not the way I wanted to. I felt for Autumn, and my heart broke for Logan, mostly because he is so full of self-loathing that it's impossible not to want to wrap him in your arms and help him find peace. Shay is the only one I felt a true kinship with, although we couldn't be more different. Perhaps it's beause she feels everything so intensely, including frustration and grief. She just seems like someone I know or wish I had had as a friend when I was in high school.

Woodfolk addresses a LOT of issues in this book, including suicide, depression, LGBTQ, and social and cultural diversity. Sometimes this works well (with Logan particularly), and sometimes it feels a little scattered and detached. I keep coming back to an overarching lack of connection. The three characters are associated, but Woodfolk takes a little too long to get you there.

I wanted to love this book. Instead, I'm left feeling a little underwhelmed.
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Absolutely stunning! 

The Beauty That Remains is a thoughtful, introspective, and emotionally driven debut. It's gut-wrenching as well as uplifting, and over time I began to care for Logan, Autumn, and Shay as if they were my own friends. 

As mention above, The Beauty That Remains introduces three protagonists. Logan, Autumn, and Shay are all dealing with loss, grief, and moving on. 

I found all three characters to be interesting as well as likable. I especially appreciated that they weren't all friends; instead, they were general acquaintances, sometimes overlapping but mostly sticking to their own social circles. Out of the three, I found Shay's story to be my favorite. Mostly because (a) I'm fascinated by twins in general and (b) because her voice just really came through to me. I will say, however, that the POVs, especially at first, sounded incredibly similar. Sometimes it was hard to remember who exactly I was reading about, but as the book continued, I found this to be less of a problem. 

What I love the most about this book, however, is the way in which Ashley paints grief. The Beauty That Remains shows that no one grieves exactly the same. Some are quiet with their grief and some are loud. Some can't bring themselves to cry, no matter how hard they try. Some cling to their last words, dwelling over the what-ifs. Ashley also addresses the good-and-bad that social media brings about when somebody dies. All three characters have their ups and downs when it comes to their loved one's social media accounts. One one side, all three of them appreciate that their loved one's accounts are still there, that they can still look at their Instagrams, Youtube channels, etc., but at the same time they suffer when deciding when enough is enough. It's interesting in a way that someone can live on through their old posts, no mater how long ago they passed away. Additionally, Ashely brings everything full circle, she allows the characters to see the good in the "beauty that remains," and I loved the character development that occurred for this to happen. By the end, I felt that I left all three characters in a much better place than when I started. 

Overall, The Beauty That Remains is a standout debut. The writing is what especially stood out to me here, especially when it came to Ashley's observations and conclusions relating to grief and death. 

*This review will be published on Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf on Monday, March 12, 2018. The link provided will go live on that day. This review has already been added to Goodreads and will be added to Amazon & BN on the release date.*
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Ashley Woodfolk’s The Beauty That Remains is one of the most moving books I’ve read in a long time.  It is a story about love and loss and how overwhelming the grieving process can be.  In some ways because of its subject matter, it was a difficult book to read.  I felt my heart absolutely breaking for the characters in this book over and over again because their grief was so palpable. At the same time, however, I thought it was a beautiful read with an important message about how we all grieve in our own way and in our own time, and I thought Woodfolk did a beautiful job of exploring that as she takes us through the grieving process of three teenagers who have lost someone close to them.

The book follows Autumn whose best friend Tavia recently died in a car accident, Shay who is dealing with the loss of her twin sister Sasha to leukemia, and Logan, whose ex-boyfriend Bram has committed suicide.  As soon as we meet each of them, it becomes clear that they are really struggling to cope with the loss of their loved ones.  Autumn spends more time at Tavia’s home than she does her own now and also sends emails to her dead friend’s Gmail account almost every day because she doesn’t feel like she can talk to anyone else about how lost she feels.  Shay is struggling, not just because looking at her own face in the mirror every day is a constant reminder that she has lost the person closest to her in the whole world, but also because she just doesn’t feel like she knows how to live or where she fits in without Sasha by her side.  She feels awkward around their mutual friends, and then there’s the music review blog she and Sasha ran together.  Shay can barely imagine trying to move forward with that without Sasha, whose reviews were the heart and soul of the blog.  Logan is not only mourning the loss of Bram who he’s pretty sure he was in love with, but he is also wracked with guilt because he and Bram had a huge fight and Logan said some awful things to him that he never got the chance to apologize for.  Logan is barely hanging on and starts drinking to cope with his emotions.

As Autumn, Shay, and Logan withdraw from their friends and family and bottle up their emotions, we see firsthand just how messy and ugly grief can be.  Woodfolk takes us deep into the psyche of these grieving teens and shows us exactly what they won’t share with those around them:  all of those haunting ‘what ifs’ –  what if we hadn’t fought, what if I hadn’t said those awful words, what if I had gone to the party with her, what if….

 Powerful and authentic presentation.  I think what I liked most about this book is the way Woodfolk presents three completely different journeys of grief and healing to show just how truly individual the grieving process is.  Autumn, Shay, and Logan each experience their own unique array of emotions and develop their own mechanisms for coping with their loss.  Some of the emotions and coping mechanisms are of course healthier than others, but what each of them goes through just feels so authentic.  At times I felt like I was right there either grieving with them or wishing I could say something to take away their pain.

An emotionally devastating book that still manages to have a beautiful and positive message.  Even though this book was at times emotionally draining just because its subject matter is so difficult and intense, I still thought it radiated such a positive message overall.  Woodfolk shows us that no matter how dark a tunnel you find yourself in after losing a loved one, there is still light at the end of it.  You just have to keep pushing through at your own pace until you get there.  And you can’t do it alone.  You need the love and support of the ones you keep pushing away.  And of course you’ll always miss the person that you lost, but you can still heal and move forward.  Your loved one would want that for you.

The healing power of music.  Even though all of the teens in this book expressed their grief in different ways, they still had one thing in common on their journey to healing…music.  Music in the form of a local rock band called Unraveling Lovely is the thread that connects these three individual journeys of grief.  I’ve always found music to be cathartic and healing so I loved that it played such a central role in this book and helped these teens find their way through the darkness.

 I had a couple of small issues with The Beauty That Remains but nothing so big that it took away from my enjoyment of the overall story.

Autumn has a budding romance with Dante, the brother of her deceased best friend, and I was torn about that.  On the one hand, it was nice to see Autumn and Dante talk to each other about the loss of Tavia, especially since they weren’t really talking to anyone else about it.  At the same time, however, every time their meetings took a romantic turn, the romance just felt out of place.

I also occasionally had trouble keeping all of the character’s names straight and kept mixing up who the survivors were and who the deceased were.  I’d have to refresh my memory each time I picked the book up again.  I think that was my own fault though because the book got to me so much emotionally.  I happened to be reading The Beauty That Remains the same week that 17 students and faculty members lost their lives at a high school in Parkland, Florida.  The book just hit me all the harder as I thought about what the students, parents, and administrators at the school must be going through and so I could only read a little at a time before I just needed to take a breather.  I think if I been able to read it straight through without stopping so much, keeping the names straight wouldn’t have been an issue.

 Through her characters and their experiences in The Beauty That Remains, Woodfolk gently reminds us all that there isn’t a right or a wrong way to grieve when you lose someone you love.  We all grieve in different ways and some of us take longer to heal than others, but as long as we keep moving forward, eventually there is light at the end of the tunnel.
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Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Thank you, Random House Children's, for giving me a free, digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

Truthfully, I didn't know what to expect going into this novel. Initially, it was the cover that drew me in. Then I read the synopsis, and as I'm currently trying to read more contemporaries, I requested this from NetGalley. This book is about loss and heartbreak, grief and pain, and working through who you are when the people you love the most are gone. I probably would have liked this more 13 years ago, but I’m glad it’s here for those who need it now.

TW: Suicide

I haven't lost someone the way Shay, Autumn, or Logan have, so I can't speak for how authentic their feelings are, but damn, did they hurt. Each character is incredibly three-dimensional, and you feel yourself hurting, breaking, and rediscovering right along with them. And not only is it just these characters who grieve, but there are family members and friends, like everyone is lost in a cavernous sea with only a life jacket to save them. What's crazy is that we don't see how these three main characters are connected until later in the story.

There's a lot of positives here: positive therapist/client relationship, developing relationship between mother and daughter, reconciling friendships and building relationships that were once broken, and a positive approach to mental health.

I enjoyed the writing as well, but if I'm being incredibly honest, I found myself reading this book just so I could finish it. I feel a bit guilty after I finished reading it, because I felt like this could have been given to someone who needed to read about characters like Shay, Autumn, and Logan. If I were their age, I would have wanted to be them, especially Shay who is incredibly deep into the local music scene--something I pined after when I was in high school.

I questioned a handful of things. Autumn is Korean, adopted by an American family, but she fit into the "quiet Asian girl" role. Those words are actually said a few times throughout the book in reference to Autumn. I don't like the stereotype, but I think Autumn was this way because of her relationship with her friend, Octavia, and things begin to change as the story progresses, and gives me hope that she will learn about and grow into herself more. But I was fun to see Autumn's family try to keep the connection to her Korean heritage alive, like cooking Korean food.

I look forward to see what else Woodfolk writes. It's heart-wrenching and provocative.
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This is a really hard book to read because it portrays grief in such a painful, immediate way. Three teenagers are dead, and the people closest to them are struggling to keep going. They are furious and devastated and they don't have time for the usual pleasantries or to try and make other people feel better. 

This is incredibly well-written and poignant (but never maudlin, which is probably incredibly easy to slip in to, given that it's about grief). It's maybe not a book that you'll love reading (it's so sad!) but it's definitely the kind of book that will stay with you.

Recommended.
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Content warnings: death, loss, suicide, drugs, alcohol, anxiety, panic attacks

What a beautiful gem of a book. The Beauty that Remains is an excellent debut, and an even better exploration of grief and loss. We follow three main characters– Autumn, Logan, and Shay– who have all recently lost someone important in their lives. We see how each of them processes loss and death differently, and eventually, we find out how their stories and lives intertwine.

My very favorite thing about this book, speaking of which, was the multiple perspectives. Autumn’s best friend has died in a car crash; Logan’s ex has committed suicide; and Shay’s twin sister has died of leukemia. Each POV character had a distinct voice, and though they all experienced similar tragedies, they struggle with different issues in the aftermath of those tragedies. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think Shay was my favorite voice. I related deeply to her struggles with anxiety, and I think she processed grief in a similar way to me. Although, I will say, I loved the slight mystery element in Logan’s perspective, and I also loved the unexpected friendship he forms (I won’t spoil it). And every time I read one of Autumn’s chapters, I just wanted to wrap her up in a giant hug. I really appreciated the way all the main characters’ were connected, too. I’m always on board with the idea that music unites people, especially in times of grief and hardship. Even though it sounds cheesy, making music with my choir has been the only thing that got me through my toughest mental health times.

Oh, and the diversity among the main characters? Fantastic. Autumn is Korean, but has been adopted by white parents. Her love interest, as well as her best friend, are both Latinx. Logan is gay, and his ex-boyfriend is queer. Shay and her love interest are both black. I’m happy that so many readers will have the chance to see themselves represented in the pages of this book. I can tell that Ashley Woodfolk put a lot of effort into getting this representation right, and I know that at least the black representation is #ownvoices.

Another great element of this story? The writing. Ashley Woodfolk’s prose is striking and lovely, and there are lots of beautiful, quotable passages. Plus, her words flow easily from one page and one chapter to the next. I read most of this book in one sitting on an airplane, because even though it’s a quiet, character-driven novel as opposed to a fast-paced, plot-driven story, I felt invested in what happened to our protagonists.

Overall, I think readers who gravitate toward heavier, more emotional contemporaries will adore and appreciate this book. It explores grief in a thoughtful way, and these characters will stick with me for a while. I highly recommend checking this one out when it releases in March!

Have you read The Beauty that Remains? If so, who was your favorite POV character? If not, do you plan to pick it up?
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The Beauty that Remains is an excruciating journey through grief with three teens, each dealing with their own staggering loss. Autumn lost her lifelong best friend in a car wreck, Logan his first love/estranged best friend to suicide, and Shay her twin sister to leukemia. Throughout the book, the characters wrestle with themselves, their grief, and their loved ones in an effort to adjust (or not) to a world that has shifted irrevocably. The pain hasn't gone in the end, but they are finding their footing and emerging from the consuming fog of their grief. One of my favorite things about this book was watching the relationships between the main characters and those closest to them evolve as they navigated their grief together. Nothing about their growth or grief was linear-- it was heart wrenching and devastating and beautiful in turns.

In retrospect, it is easy to imagine that this book was complicated and difficult to write-- the author nails so many small but powerful facets and details of grief, believably, from several different perspectives-- but I never thought of the complexity of the subject or about the author at all while I was reading it. The stories sucked me in and carried me along, to the point where I wasn't really conscious of reading--only of the lives and grief and relationships playing out in front of me. Several times I unintentionally read several chapters past where I had planned to stop.

I imagine many people, especially teens, will find solace in this timely and beautiful book.
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