The Beauty That Remains

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

New Release: 3-6-2018

The cover of this book is a statement about the beauty within. 4 stories are interwoven with each other to show how different families and teenagers deal with very different kinds of losses in very different ways. It's like Love Actually, if Love Actually was about untimely teenager deaths, those left behind, and the common threads that connect them all together in grief and life.

Ashley Woodfolk's debut novel The Beauty That Remains was provided by Delacourte Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

I have read other books like this one. Books that ask the question "How do we deal with those gone too soon?" Cancer deaths, accidents, suicide - you don't have to look far in YA to find these kinds of situations and the effects of the deaths on families and friends. Woodfolk includes ALL of these themes in her debut, but adds another question to the usual YA grief recipe.

How do we move past the loss of a loved one when they are all around us on social media?

The most important part of this novel is how it makes us question the ever-present social media craze. How many selfies does a teenager take in a day and post to Instagram or Snapchat? How many videos on Youtube? What happens when a young person's existence isn't just their body and relationships but also an online presence that can outlive them?

Before there was a cellphone and camera in the hands of every 8-18 year old, if something like this happened we mourned, attended the funerals, felt the missing pieces in our daily lives, and then eventually we found a way to heal over that hole and reshape our world to fit the life without that loved one in it.

How do we heal over a wound when the person isn't truly gone? When we can watch a multitude of videos online and hear their voice and see them move? When their face and comments are everywhere to be seen forever? How do we move on and accept a world without the dead when they haven't completely left us?

The short answer is that we can't. The quick solution is to have a failsafe on an account that deletes it after an amount of time of inactivity or perhaps anyone under 18 must have a parent on the account as well (or if not that, then if an account holder is proven to be under 18, a parent must be provided with the username and password in order to manage or shut down the account). Shut it down is a fast, quick, and easy solution.

The longer answer is that no one is quite sure. This is a question unique to our time, and it's one that mental health professionals, counselors, and families themselves will find a way to answer, hopefully to preserve the sanity and healthy grieving of anyone affected by any of these types of circumstances. A few regulations might not go amiss either, to make sure that social media companies provide the information that grieving families need to heal and move forward, while still remaining legally on point.

Don't rush to this book, because there are a lot of triggering stories and scenarios in it. If you have a fresh, recent loss this book will hurt. It really covers its bases. But if you would like a story that asks some important questions and makes you think about a world that young people are currently living in and figuring out, this is a magnificent book to pick up. Go get you some.
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What a lovely debut novel! Full of pain, heartbreak and really fascinating characters. I enjoyed this book with its diverse characters and how their stories wove together.
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Our teens lose too many friends and family members due to accidents, suicide, and disease. As an adult, I feel ill-equipped to help them cope. The Beauty That Remains, the stories of three teens who have loved and lost, is a window into the grief and coping mechanisms of these characters. It can provide empathy for those of us who know a teen coping with loss and perhaps a measure of comfort for a teen who thinks "no one gets what I'm going through." Recommend to readers who want a heart-rending story of friendship, love, loss, grief, and some musical interludes.
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What a fantastic debut novel! Ashley Woodfolk is definitely an author to look for in the future.  Each teen in this story is learning how to cope with life in the aftermath of intolerable loss.  Woodfolk tells each of their stories with such emotion and understanding and integrates them seamlessly. Logan, Shay and Autumn are all dealing with loss differently and Woodfolk does a wonderful job of telling their stories. The stories seem so genuine- not neglecting the role of friends, parents and siblings when dealing with loss. Despite being about a difficult topic, this book is so readable and relatable.  Teens, young adults and adults and alike will be able to read this book and relate.  Wonderful book.  I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to read it.
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Autumn's best friend, Tavia, died in a car accident. Shay lost her twin sister, Sasha, to a long battle with leukemia. And Logan's ex-boyfriend, Bram, died by suicide. If you have lost someone close to you, this book is very likely to re-open your own emotional wounds. What may simply have been a "tear jerker" for other readers actually brought me back to my decades-ago loss of my own best friend and the guilt I felt long after her passing. I think that, perhaps, Ashley Woodfolk was a little too good at depicting heartache and grief that come with such a loss. /sigh

Though the three of them lost people in very different ways have different aspects of their identities that set them apart -- Autumn is adopted and Korean-American, Shay is black, and Logan is gay -- their lives are similarly torn apart by both grief and guilt. They think back about the things they regret saying, the things they regret doing or not doing, and all of the "what ifs" eat at them as they struggle to move on with their own lives. As the story progresses, the characters' stories begins to overlap and, not surprisingly, come together.  Not only does this book do a fantastic job of showcasing the realities of living through grief, but it does so with a diverse cast of characters.  I look forward to seeing what else this debut author will write in the future.

Happy Reading!
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4 stars

Autumn, Shay, and Logan have all lost someone close to them recently, and it’s turned their lives upside down.

Autumn’s best friend, Tavia, was lost to a car crash. Shay’s now left twinless without Sasha. Logan is left even more heartbroken before when his ex-boyfriend Bram overdosed.

They were brought together by music, torn apart by grief. Is music enough to bring them together once more?

This was really good. Really good. So many people will love this novel, and I had a great time reading.

Books about grief are always tricky to write, but I think Woodfolk really went towards it in a unique but tactful way, and she was really able to convey the characters’ stories.

This is probably my favorite part of the book–how relatable the characters were on a non-grief level. They had struggles and issues that many of us could relate to–even if we haven’t lost someone–and that’s what really made this a great book.

They’re a diverse bunch (Autumn’s Asian, Shay’s black, Logan’s gay), and yet they don’t read like “My life is dominated by this one diverse aspect about me” but rather, read like they’re people just like you, even if they’re not straight or white or whatever you are. I really loved this embracing of the diversity in a natural way that really made it interesting and the furthest thing from tokenism.

All the characters had something anyone could relate to and they struggled with things outside of their grief, which was something I really liked.

But the grief aspect itself was also really well done, and I can’t personally comment on “grief done right” if there’s even such a thing, but I think it addressed a lot of the aspects that came with this.

One of the reasons I docked that star was because it didn’t get as intense as I wanted it to. Although this is a contemporary and they don’t usually get that intense, I was really looking for a good cry, but I didn’t get one.

Maybe that means I’m actually emotionally stable for once, but in this case I really do think that I just wasn’t getting that intense gush of emotions that would lead me to cry along with the characters. This was something I always hope to get from books about grief, which was why this was kind of a letdown in this aspect.

But despite this, I think many other people can (and have) related to this and it’s definitely possible this will resonate with you more on the grief aspect than it did with me.

I also had a couple issues just with the structure.

By the end of the story, you’re like “Wow! Woodfolk is a true genius–it all came together and I’m just–asfdjlsk,” but at the beginning, I have to admit I was a little confused.

Initially it was kind of difficult to distinguish between Autumn, Shay, and Logan seeing that they all are in a similar place in their journey (recently lost someone), and the only crosscurrents I was seeing was a like for Unraveling Lovely, the band that Logan used to play in, Shay used to manage, and Autumn used to like partly because her best friend’s brother was someone she had a crush on (I think I got that right).

So the initial relationship between the three was a little fuzzy, but it got clearer throughout the novel and ended up being super fun and enjoyable just to see them intertwine.

Besides that well formation of the plot, I also found this to be well-paced and a pretty quick read. TW for suicide.

Overall, this is a really good book and although I couldn’t connect with it on some aspects as much as other people did, I think you should definitely give this a shot if it seems like something you’d like. It was a fun read and I’m glad I got the chance to read this! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Woodfolk and whatever she writes next!

The links will go live on February 24th & will also be shared on Twitter.
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The Beauty that Remains really pulled me in right from the beginning. Since there are three distinct narratives going on, I'm going to talk about them in order. 

"'You okay? he asks. We say this to each other all the time now, whenever one of us catches the other zoning out; whenever it's clear that we're thinking about you. I nod, even though I'll never be okay again, but I don't know what else to say. I ask him the same question. 'Are you?' And he nods too, completing the circular lie we've been telling each other for days, since we first saw the photo of your car. Lying is the new language we speak. It's the only way we can talk at all." 

Autumn's voice is strong and compelling, and I was captivated by the ways in which she dealt with her grief. I immediately felt a connection to her and I wanted to know more - I wanted to help her get through her loss. I also fell in love with Dante because he's a wonderful muffin and I just wanted to eat him up. They are perhaps my new favorite contemporary YA couple. 

Autumn is dealing with the loss of her best friend, and her storyline deals a lot with guilt over "what-if" thinking. "What if Autumn had gone with Tavia to that party instead of staying behind? What if Dante had driven her instead of bailing to hang out with Autumn?" What if what if what if? There are so many warped paths your brian can take you down if you allow yourself to rewrite the past over and over. It's a very real struggle, and I appreciate how candid Autumn's letters to Tavia were. How DO you move on when your best friend dies? How do you keep living your life when they're never going to get to finish living theirs? 

"They say that dead people who have unfinished business with the living become ghosts. That their spirits linger here, or in limbo somwhere, and that they can't rest in peace until they've done whatever it is that they needed to do. But no one ever talks about the living who have unfinished business with the dead. Where is the plane they're banished to, and how do they ever find peace again?"  

Logan was a bit more complicated for me. I didn't really like him very much in the beginning, and while he did grow on me he was never my favorite person. Plus, I felt there were a couple of scenes in his section that were a bit too R-rated for me (when it comes to sex in literature I'm like an 11-year-old). 

That being said, his side of the story deals with the pain of not being able to take things back after someone dies. Unlike Autumn, who mostly grieves by writing to her lost loved one, Logan grieves by smothering his feelings in alcohol and other illicit activities. He hides from his grief. I think there is a lot to be learned from him and that redeemed his story arc for me. His ex-boyfriend has committed suicide and Logan can't help but remember their last conversation (their break up conversation) where he said hurtful things that he's regretted ever since but can no longer apologize for. It's shocking and raw to watch him unravel with guilt over it, but no less powerful to see him begin to heal himeslf with music later on. 

"There's something I feel from being in this room - a kind of gut understanding. Losing a twin is like losing a leg - you forget how to stand on your own because you never needed to. Everyone in this room is missing a piece of themselves in the same unbearable, unexplainable way that I am." 

And then there is Shay, whom I also really liked and rooted for throughout the story. The whole concept of beign "twinless" was absolutely horrible and impoosible to even imagine and my heart just wept for her. 

She's dealing with anxiety attacks ever since her twin sister, Sasha, passed away from Lukemia. Even though they knew that Sasha was dying, that doesn't make the pain any less excrutiating now that she's gone. Of all of the characters, Shay has the best support group in the form of her friends. They really come together for her to get her the help she needs, and I applaud that. YA needs more friends like that. 

I also liked how the story explored Shay's relationship with her mom, and how they deal with their grief individually and together. 

I loved that the three stories connected. At first, jumping from each POV seemed kind of random, but as you read you start to see all of the connections piling up until the three stories converge. It's very well written and I thought that all three protagonists balanced each other out nicely. 

While I'm not the biggest music buff out there, I still appreciated how the music tied these indivudals together. My only complaint would be that the music seems rooted in Logan and Shay's stories but seemed a bit "thrown in" in Autumn's. I would have slipped in more music references earlier on in her story. 

Other than that, this is a touching and poignant story of loss, love, and moving on when nothing will ever be the same. It's about forging a new future from the ashes of grief and I absolutely loved it. 

Rating: 5+/5 stars
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Overall, this was a wonderfully written book.  The characters were very deep, the tragedies very emotion-wrenching, and the connections between the three intertwining stories were creative and perfect.  

First you had Autumn, who had lost her best friend Octavia.  She felt guilt over Tavia's death because she had not been with her that night, she had been with Tavia's brother Dante instead of at the party where Tavia had left to go try to make up with her ex-boyfriend Perry.  Every chapter begins with Autumn writing a message to Tavia on one of her social media sites, followed by an actual email to her.  

Then there was Logan.  Logan's ex-boyfriend committed suicide.  Logan's guilt comes from the fact that when he broke up with Bram, he said horrible things to him about hoping he died alone.  You feel for Logan.  I mean he didn't even know he was gay for sure until Bram kissed him.  And then when Bram basically broke up with Logan for a girl, it was a huge blow for Logan.  Every one of Logan's chapters begins with a post from Bram about how he was so bored he was going to do something, and so it is Logan watching Bram's videos.

Finally there was Shay, who lost her twin sister Sasha to cancer.  The beginning of each of Shay's chapters is a band review by Sasha on their BaMF site.  Shay is having panic attacks, really bad ones whenever something makes her think about Sasha.  A song, a memory, just about anything.  She doesn't feel guilty necessarily, but it is hard for her to think about how her mom and Sasha's boyfriend now see Sasha whenever they look at her, and that must be hard for her.  Plus learning that she is what is now called "twinless".  

All three have a connection to the band Unraveling Lovely, a band that is currently split up.  It is this connection that they may be able to use to save each other, save themselves really, help to pull themselves back to life after the death of someone that they each loved more than they can ever say.

I loved all the connections.  I liked how little bits that related to each of the losses led to the connections having their issues and separations.  The saddest part for me had to do with Bram, and what all we found out had happened between the time he had broken up with Logan, and what it really was that led to his death. 

My only complaint is that I struggled a bit to get through it.  I had problems remembering who was who at first.  Keeping characters and side characters straight between each chapter.  That's probably what it was that kept me from being able to get sucked in and not put it down.  It was easy to stop reading when I had to put it aside.  But it was not easy to pick back up.  While it had some great messages, it just wasn't my top read so far.  I probably will not spend the money to purchase for my school library, but if someone was asking for a good book about suicide or grief for teens, it would be one I could suggest as a new choice.
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Let me preface this by saying: I love seeing diverse main characters in books. It’s always refreshing to see authors break away from the white heterosexual “default”. Unfortunately, though, this book didn’t really do it for me. I think the author tried a little too hard to get a variety of diverse characters and instead of feeling natural, it felt like marking things off on a checklist. There was just simply too much going on and too many characters and stories to keep track of. As a result, we weren’t able to really dive in emotionally and feel the full extent of each individual’s grief. 

My other big complaint is that the storylines don’t overlap or intersect at all until almost the end of the book and then when they do, it seems forced and thin, like it was an afterthought. It felt like I was getting ping-ponged back and forth between 3 seemingly unrelated books, never able to get really emotionally involved in any one story before getting thrown back into another. 

On the positive side, I really liked the author’s writing style and the fact that she was able to give each of the many various characters a unique voice. If the connection between the storylines was stronger (with overlapping characters and scenes) or, even better, if it was broken up into 3 separate books as I feel it should have been, I think I would have connected with the characters better and would have given this book a higher rating. As it stands, I’m only giving it 3/5 stars.
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Dark, edgy and filled with emotional turmoil and the heavy feeling of loss, THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS by Ashley Woodfolk tells the tale of a group of teens individually dealing with the loss of a loved one either through illness, suicide or a deadly accident. These are their stories, their reflections on the past, and their attempts to heal and give up the ghosts of guilt that haunt them. In the end, these seemingly individual struggles will find their healing through music and a band that, in a sense also died.

Ashley Woodfolk has given realism and life to her tale by not shying away from social issues that often carry stigmas, suicide, depression and LGBT awareness in an age group where hormones rage and emotional maturity has not been reached. Guilt also is a heavy them throughout this story. There is guilt of words said in moments of hurt and anger, guilt for surviving and guilt for not having done something, believing events would have played out differently.

Three deaths, the survivors left behind in pain and overwhelming grief, unable to move on as they rehash events, isolating themselves from both receiving and giving support.

Well written, heart wrenching and emotionally draining throughout, Ashley Woodfolk tells young adult readers it is okay to “feel”, yet unhealthy to not move forward. Certainly a book that will resonate with any reader who has loved and lost without finding a black and white road to closure, because just maybe, there is none, but life and love will go on as those lost will always be a part of those who survived.

Written in an edgy and slightly disjointed way, the atmosphere created seems to mirror the emotional turmoil being lived.

I received a complimentary ARC edition from Random House Children's/Delacorte Press!

Publisher: Delacorte Press (March 6, 2018)
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Genre: YA Literature & Fiction
Print Length: 336 pages
Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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I've only heard wonderful things about The Beauty That Remains and with a blurb from Becky Albertalli, I knew I had to read it.

I want to start this review by giving a massive trigger warning for this entire book because it strongly deals with grief and loss. The blurb just states that "tragedy strikes" for all the characters, not that someone important in their lives passes away. The novel does revolve around 3 different POVs and one of the deaths is a suicide so please be cautious when reading.

All three characters were unique. The novel had Shay, a girl who lost her twin sister, Sasha, to leukaemia. Autumn, whose best friend Octavia passed away in a car accident. Logan, whose ex-boyfriend took his own life. These unique characters were all connected through their love of music and in particular, a band called Unraveling Lovely. 

The characters were all compelling and engaging and their voices were distinct through the first half of the novel but once the characters' lives started becoming more connected, I did get the characters' voices confused sometimes. This annoyed me only because I spent the first half of the book wanting the characters to relate to each other and once they did, I got slightly confused about which POV it was.

My other reservation is that I also didn't really get a clear grasp for the setting and then once I read it took place in Queens (around 65% into the book), I was perplexed because there wasn't really a mention of New York City at all before. I was confused because most of these characters lived in a house, which I felt was odd for a city, and half of the characters were driving regularly when I think that most teens in a city of that size would use public transportation.

Other than the reservations above, the writing was beautiful and I can't wait to see what Woodfolk has out next. If you're a fan of reading contemporary novels with tough topics and compelling characters, I highly recommend The Beauty That Remains.
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I've never read a book like this one. It's so lyrical,and raw and heartbreaking. Characters are so well developed that you actually thing all of them are real. This book will show you that even though it hurts now,there is always a hope that it will be better one day. This book left me breathless. And I hope it will leave you breathless too.
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While I loved the premise of this book, it unfortunately was not for me. I made it about halfway through before realizing that I couldn’t connect with or care about any of there characters. I kept wanting to feel something for them (and almost did with both Logan and Shay’s stories) but something just held me back from truly connecting. 

It definitely wasn’t the writing style. I thought the actual writing was beautiful without being overly flowery and showy. It my have been my own personal feelings and state of mind at the time of reading. 

I do think this would be a great book to help teens process their own feelings of loss and grief, and would absolutely recommend it for someone in that situation.
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Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together and death wants to tear them apart...

Autumn knows who she is, a talented artist and loyal friend.

Shay is defined by her her bond with her twin, Sasha, and her love for music.

Logan writes love songs when his love life is less than perfect.

When tragedy hits each of them, they realize music isn't enough. Logan can't stop watching vlogs of his ex, Shay is trying to keep it together, and Autumn sends messages that will never be answered.

They each wonder what life would be like if this tragedy hadn't happened and what will they do next.

This book is definitely going to be HUGE in 2018. I really look forward to this authors future books to come. It is a very diverse and strong read that will give you all the feels!
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3.5 stars. The Beauty that Remains tackles the deeply personal and complicated issue of grief, focusing on three teenagers who have lost a fellow teen close to them- a twin, a friend, an ex. Each of them is experiencing and acting on their grief in different ways, which will give readers an opportunity to either potentially see themselves reflected (if they have also experienced loss), or to recognize the various ways that grief may manifest. Many of the YA books I've read featuring teens tackling grief have really focused on one person's experience, and I do think that the overall impact of this book is greater by giving multiple perspectives. Learning how to live after loss is a complicated process, and this story reinforces that it isn't necessarily a linear path. The story lost steam for me for a bit in the middle, but the last 1/4 or so of the book did a good job wrapping up the three plots.
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Pretty good! Lovely and quiet, a good book to read in one sitting and just enjoy. Grief has been done a lot in YA, but this is a refreshing, well-written take.
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The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

	Logan has lost the love of his life. Autumn lost her best friend. Shay is twinless. None of them are okay and nothing is fine. The loss is with them everyday and it’s changed them all. The Beauty That Remains is their story, but its also the story of the ones they loved and the people that love them. The people who are with them as they gather the pieces and face one day at a time. 

I like that Woodfolk took her time with each individual’s story and each individual loss. I like that each main character was not only dealing with the loss, but that the loss changed each one and caused them to grapple with different aspects of themselves. Told in alternating first person narratives readers are given an in-depth look at each person after the los,s which I think is important. Readers never get to know the characters outside of their loss and for a while it is that loss that defines them. Until they can find themselves again. And that is what this novel ends up being, coming of age stories prompted by the loss of a loved on. I thought it was really important that Woodfolk included therapy, which I know to some people still has a stigma but it’s such a useful tool and can be extremely helpful. 

I’m a big mess of emotions and it’s okay. This book deals with loss in such a profound honest way. The story of three teenagers who have all lost someone close to them stings of grief and adolescence. As a woman in my early thirties, it’s hard to remember sometimes how hard it was being a teenager and grappling with coming adulthood. Reading books like this bring all of that back to me. I remember the pain of losing loved ones as a teenager and trying to process that loss and all of the emotions that came with it. It’s not easy and this book handles the emotional aspect of it beautifully and painfully. I recommend this book because it’s well done and full of an unbearable but all too honest human experience.
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I started to read this and never got around to finishing it. I was enjoying it for the most part, but i was also very sensitive to the subject matter at the time and Im not sure that i can continue to read this.
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Way too much going on for my taste. Too many characters, too many stories- too much, too much. It felt like checking boxes rather than authenticity of the voices of the characters that had a story to tell.

Some reviewers mentioned that it would be for fans of Silvera's works and if we're comparing, I'd say maybe since I'm not sure I've cracked the code of Silvera's work either. 

There's a complicated-ness that becomes heavy and churns sadness. I am not saying that books don't need the darkness or sadness (because I'm the first to enjoy these over happy-go-lucky books anyway) yet it's drowned out by too many stories to keep track of when the characters do not get connected until about halfway through the story.
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For a debut novel, Ashley has a way with words that immediately triggers an intense emotional connection with each of these main characters and their loved ones who have died, while also being honest and not pulling any punches with the realities of living and learning to heal in the aftermath of death. It’s also incredibly diverse, with all of the main 3 and their side characters feeling individually fleshed out and well developed throughout the novel. I especially loved the use of media such as old Instagram posts, Twitter, and vlogs to connect us deeper into the background of each death and define the history between Autumn, Shay, and Logan. Although the pacing felt slow at certain moments, and it took a significant bit of time before the big tangled web of plot worked its way into a cohesive narrative, this debut was powerful, visceral, and bittersweet in all the best ways. The tears I shed were well worth every moment.
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