We Begin at the End

Holt. Mar. 2021. 384p. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781250759665.
A town that has witnessed a lot of tragedy is home to the people who are still picking up the pieces. Thirteen-year-old Duchess Day Radley, a self-proclaimed outlaw, takes on the responsibilities of raising herself and her younger brother, Robin, while her mother struggles with addiction and tries to live a life that doesn’t continually echo the pain of her sister’s murder nearly three decades earlier. Now, the convicted killer is set to return home to a place that still hasn’t healed, and the ripple effects of each characters’ decisions cause more and more misfortune. The fully developed characters in this novel are raw, real, and relatable; Whitaker makes it easy for readers to recognize someone they know. Duchess’s story is one of resilience, growing up in a less than desired environment, and her foul-mouthed outbursts and Robin’s pure heart provide some levity to a heavy thriller.
VERDICT Recommended for high school libraries that need updated coming-of-age stories or less shiny characters full of grit. Cultivated readers will be able to handle the dual narrative along with some mature content and language.

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