February 21, 2018

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The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk | SLJ Review

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redstarWOODFOLK, Ashley. The Beauty That Remains. 336p. Delacorte. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524715878.

Gr 9 Up –Bring out the tissues: this deftly written tale of three teenagers coping with love and loss will pull heartstrings. Logan, Shay, and Autumn are loosely connected by the now-defunct band called Unravelling Lovely. As the band has imploded, so have their lives. In alternating perspectives, this novel presents each character coping with the loss of someone vitally important to their own understanding of who they are in the world. Singer-songwriter Logan struggles with his anger and self-destructive impulses after his ex-boyfriend’s apparent suicide. Shay copes with her own fear and heartache after her twin sister, a music blogger, dies of cancer. At the same time, quiet, artistic Autumn has to break out of her shell of silence and self-control to find her way without her colorful best friend. The likelihood of three young people in the same world all coping with the tragic deaths of three different young people in their orbit definitely stretches the imagination. That said, the core characters live and breathe; they are contradictory, messy, and truly believable, making readers willing believe the premise. In her debut, Woodfolk has written a lovely and introspective coming-of-age novel that fully captures the way friendship, music, family, and romance dovetail to create a young person’s identity. The self- and life-defining nature of grief and loss captured so well by authors such as John Green is explored here with humor, intelligence, and grace. VERDICT An excellent selection for YA collections.–Sara Scribner, Marshall Fundamental School, Pasadena, CA

This review was published in the School Library Journal February 2018 issue.

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