Cover Image: And Then There Was Us

And Then There Was Us

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Member Reviews

“Where do I get closure, when the person I need closure from is dead?

When 19-year-old Coi, loses her mom suddenly in an accident, she’s forced to deal with their tumultuous relationship and find a way to move forward.

“And Then There Was Us,” is a thought-provoking YA novel that addresses grief, and loss and has elements of the effects of generational trauma. The main theme is how we deal with grief and more importantly how each person has their way of processing loss.

Coi is an engaging protagonist, who is going through it, as the story begins we get a slight look into her life before it blows up. Living with her father in Toronto she’s attending college while designing her clothing brand. And while it may seem at first glance she has it all together, Coi has been changed by being estranged from her mother, and not dealing with the pain that was left by that. But when she receives a call one night from her aunt that her mom has been in a car accident and is in the hospital fighting for her life, Coi runs to be there, while trying to process how she feels, and before she can even get a grasp her mom passes away.

As the story unfolds we see how her relationship with her mother left deep-rooted scars, that affect her in ways she’s too afraid to admit to herself. And while the abuse she endured at the hands of her mom was traumatic, she’s now left to figure out how she can get closure from someone who never apologized or showed remorse.

As a result, many of her relationships are strained, especially those with her mom’s family, including her younger sister Kayla.

Reading this book took me on a journey, and while I was deeply engrossed in Coi’s story and POV, I felt there were moments when she was acting a little bratty, particularly when dealing with her grandmother, Lady.

Key Takeaways:
- Everyone processes grief differently and this story truly showed that we have to give people space to process things in their way.
- We all experience people differently. The way Coi experienced her mother, as opposed to her younger sister, Kayla was night and day. I think Coi had trouble processing that because she couldn’t recognize that maybe her mother changed in the years that they weren’t in contact.
- The author touches a bit on generational trauma when we hear Lady tell Coi a little bit about her experience with her mother. I wished that the author had explored that piece a little more.

Overall, the story was a good read and had many great elements. One thing that I loved, that you don’t see too much of, is Black single fathers. I loved that Coi’s dad was such a positive person in her life and kept her grounded, and while he had his faults they didn’t take away from him being a good dad.

Lines I Loved

“I know how I feel, it’s just not what everyone wants me to feel”
“You moved on,” Elaine says. “That’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s how you survive in this world.


Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me an advanced copy of this book for my honest review.

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actual rating: 3.5⭐️

This book was an emotional rollercoaster, there’s so much to unpack with this one but I don’t want to spoil its story in my review. So I will say this: this book is heavy, there’s a lot of heavy themes and topics in this book such as physical/mental abuse, unprocessed trauma, and death of a family member to name a few.

The approach to telling this story is interesting because we follow Coi, an 18 year old that actually has a really good head on her shoulders but, beneath her hustle and hard work, she is fractured from the actions and inaction of her abusive mother. Coi’s thoughts throughout the book are interesting because we as the reader can see her trying to work out her emotions/feelings when confronted with certain things. Her debating the course she wants to take a conversation with her boyfriend, Derrick or her grandmother, Lady. She has a good read on people but funny enough, because this is just how life is, she doesn’t have a good read on herself until her family spells it out for her clearly. Coi’s character arc was beautiful to read, the shift in attitude and mindset; as she takes a step into processing the death of her mother and her relationship with her mother.

I will say, the reason I mark this book at 3.5 stars and not a solid 4, is due to the fact that while the pacing was fine even though I would be like “oh we’re jumping in time again” that part I was fine with because it felt like those were fade outs from that particular point in Coi’s life to keep the story moving along. My main complaint is that I wish some scenes were expanded upon even more. There are so many conversations that I wish got a proper conclusion and not an abrupt ending because it felt like it would stop right when we were getting a pivotal moment for the characters. For instance, Coi and her father’s conversations were often cut short and I wish we could’ve gotten more from them, more backstory about Coi’s mother.

Another example would be Derrick, I think his character could’ve been developed a bit more, especially because Coi’s treatment of him wasn’t always the best as she was going through A LOT in this book. I wish they could’ve had at least a conversation about it because it was something that happened often throughout the story. I also wish that there could’ve been more with Coi’s dreams of her mother, those dreams were so vital to the story that I found myself anticipating the next one because it added nuance to the story.

Coi and Kayla’s relationship was written so well, the hard hitting questions were so important for both of their stories and I am glad this book didn’t shy away from that at all.

I didn’t expect this book to make me cry but it did, this book takes its themes of family, loss, grief, and trauma; and really shows a full display of the healing process, the “my mom was a shitty and I hated her for it but I also loved her and miss her” bit, confronting thoughts that have been kept under lock and key for years, reliving certain experiences and being traumatized all over again.

Thank you to Netgalley & Penguin Random House Canada for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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So many characteristics and trends span generations, and it’s tough to break the pattern. This book explores the many types of abuse and how that carries us through our lives and affects the lives around us. It's not easy to be forgiving about our past and the choices we make. Not everything is as clear as we like to remember or believe it. And Then There Was Us is a great and well-written story.

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Thank you Netgalley and Tundra Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

"And Then There Was Us" by Kern Carter is a beautifully well-written exploration of family and forgiveness. Set against the backdrop of Coi's tumultuous journey, the book develops themes of resilience and compassion. This book is absolutely gorgeous, and I found myself moved to tears quite a few times as I was reading. Coi’s story will definitely stick with me for awhile.

Coi's story unfolds in a series of monthly vignettes, offering a unique structure that adds depth and complexity to the storytelling. As an 18-year-old grappling with the trauma of her past, Coi navigates the challenges of forgiveness and reconciliation while juggling the responsibilities of college, work, and family dynamics.

Carter skillfully portrays Coi's inner struggles and conflicting emotions, making her a relatable and compelling protagonist. She felt like an authentic teenager with both her thoughts and her actions. While sometimes she was a bit naïve and didn’t think things through completely, that is what made her feel so real. Readers will definitely be able to connect with Coi, especially if they have had similar experiences. I also really enjoyed the book’s examination of family dynamics and the bonds that hold family together. Coi's relationships with her father, best friend Jes, boyfriend Derrick, and her estranged mother and sister are portrayed with nuance and sensitivity, highlighting the complexities of love and forgiveness. Just like with Coi’s character, the relationships between everyone aren’t perfect. There are flaws and weaknesses, but that’s what makes the characters and their relationships so powerful and realistic.

Some aspects of the plot, specifically the relationship between Coi and Derrick, could have been developed more. I thought the resolution was a bit rushed resolution and their underdeveloped relationship left me wanting more closure and depth. However, the family relationships were really where the book shined and left a lasting impression on me.

Overall, "And Then There Was Us" is a compelling and thought-provoking read that offers a moving exploration of healing and redemption. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone wanting a YA contemporary book that explores family relationships in a realistic and heart-wrenching way.

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This read was a heartfelt journey of forgiveness and family bonds. “And Then There Was Us” by Kern Carter is a poignant coming-of-age novel who delves into the complexities of family relationships, forgiveness, and the enduring impact of loss. Set against the backdrop of a young girl's struggle to reconcile her past, this book weaves a powerful narrative that resonates long after the final page.

Meet Coi. She’s a resilient 18-year-old who has endured years of physical and verbal abuse from her mother. After being cast out of her mother's home at the tender age of fourteen, she finds solace with her father, creating a semblance of peace in their shared existence. But when her mother passes away unexpectedly, the fragile equilibrium shatters, thrusting her into a whirlwind of emotions.

Carter masterfully crafts characters who breathe with authenticity. Coi's internal struggle feels achingly real and her emotional journey is raw and relatable, making her a protagonist readers will root for.

The heart of this novel lies in its exploration of forgiveness. As Coi reconnects with her estranged family, including her younger half-sister Kayla, she grapples with long-held views about her mother. Carter deftly portrays the complexity of forgiveness, showing that it isn't a linear path but a messy, necessary process.

Coi's lucid dreams serve as a powerful narrative device. Through these dream sequences, readers witness her reliving moments of abuse and emotional trauma. These haunting visions force Coi to confront her past, leading to a profound transformation. Carter's portrayal of dreams blurs the line between reality and memory, leaving an indelible mark.

The dynamics within Coi's family are richly layered. Her interactions with others provides insight into the multifaceted nature of love and pain. The gradual unraveling of secrets and hidden emotions adds depth to the narrative. Readers are invited to reflect on our own relationships, our capacity for forgiveness, and the intricate threads that bind families together. This novel is a testament to resilience, hope, and the healing power of understanding. Highly recommended for fans of thought-provoking YA fiction.

The prose is both lyrical and unflinching. Carter captures the nuances of grief, anger, and vulnerability with precision. The pacing keeps readers engaged, and the emotional crescendos hit like a tidal wave. Prepare to be moved. This is a wondrous read that will linger in your heart, serving as a reminder that forgiveness can be both a burden and a balm. Carter's storytelling prowess shines brightly, making this novel an essential addition to any reader's bookshelf.

Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin Random House Canada, and Tundra Books for a temporary e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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There were a few plot points that felt rushed at times or I had trouble understanding the characters' motives behind it. I wished for a bit more from Derrick's storyline. I'm not sure I fully felt his & Coi's relationship. I want his arc to be as full as Jes's, the best friend.
But overall this is a great YA read; a Black author writing a diverse cast of characters without race being the central plot point. Not leaning on stereotypes of overdone trauma narratives.
And the cover art is phenomenal!

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A thought provoking book about family, forgiveness, and greif. While this book was not for me. It truly was well done and worth the read!
Thank you netgally, Pengin random house for the e arc.

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A moving examination of family relationships, forgiveness, and healing from previous suffering can be found in And Then There Was Us. The tale explores themes of perseverance, compassion, and the power of forgiveness as Coi struggles with her contradictory feelings and dreams back times of assault. I was crying so hard reading this book because it makes you feel like you've found yourself and that you might be able to forgive and mend. This book emphasizes the intricacies of family connections and the transformational power of forgiveness. It is an affecting and thought-provoking read. This book delivers a moving examination of healing and atonement with a gripping story and well-developed characters that will be with me for a very long time.

Thank you netgalley and penguin random house canada for the ebook ARC

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"And Then There Was Us" by Kern Carter is a thought-provoking novel with an engaging protagonist and deep introspection, earning it a respectable 3.5-star rating from me. Coi's inner dialogue is a highlight of the book, offering a unique glimpse into her psyche and making her a relatable and complex character. The way the author delves into her thoughts and emotions adds depth and authenticity to the story, making her struggles and growth all the more compelling.

However, there are some aspects of the book that left me wanting more. One significant issue is the rushed resolution. The climax of the story felt somewhat abrupt and left a number of loose ends that could have been tied up more satisfactorily. It's as if the story was building towards something more substantial, but then it concluded with a somewhat underwhelming resolution, leaving the reader with questions and a sense of incompleteness.

Another area where the book falls short is in the development and resolution of the relationship between Coi and Derrick. While their connection is a central part of the story, it felt underdeveloped and lacking in depth. The evolution of their relationship could have been explored in more detail, allowing readers to better understand their feelings for each other. The lack of a more satisfying resolution for their relationship left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied.

In conclusion, "And Then There Was Us" is a book that excels in portraying the inner world of its main character, Coi, and her journey of self-discovery. However, it falls short in terms of the rushed resolution and the underdeveloped relationship between Coi and Derrick. While it's a worthwhile read for those who enjoy character-driven narratives, it may leave readers wishing for a more thorough exploration of certain plot elements.

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This book was heartbreaking and such an intense exploration of grief. I'm still grappling with how to string words together to provide an eloquent review, but until then, wow. I need to re-read this one to wrap my head around it.

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A mother's death forces a teen girl to reevaluate their tumultuous relationship in this powerful coming-of-age novel for teens. For fans of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter.

Well-written and heartfelt. I enjoyed it.

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