Review of What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson

Winter. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.
Jack Morton has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d do anything for. Even die for. Now with their mother gone, and their funds quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison. He chooses the money.
Ava Bardem lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one. Trust no one. Now Victor Bardem is stalking the same money as Jack. When he picks up Jack’s trail, Ava must make her own wrenching choice: remain silent or help the brothers survive.
Choices. They come at a price.

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Wow, what a book. Honestly What Beauty There Is, left me in pieces. I’m ashamed to say I initially passed on an opportunity to review this because I just felt it would be too sad for me, I was correct in the assumption that it was sad, but so very very wrong that it wouldn’t be for me. Thank you so much to The Write Reads Tours and Penguin Platform for sending me and absolutely stunning proof to review.

It’s fair to say that What Beauty There Is, is one rare gem of a book, a book that has the capacity to consume your emotions and then spit them straight back out at your feet. It’s bleak, its cold, it’s devastating but it’s also hugely compelling. Cory Anderson has a wonderful way with words, her simplistic, unpretentious style packing more emotion into just a few simple words than some authors spend paragraphs getting to. I honestly felt like I was there, having to wrap myself up tighter in my blanket even though I was in no way cold, the snow and chill wind took on a whole life of its own, becoming as big as any character.

But these characters, oh my. Jack is everything, a young carer with so much on his shoulders – I instantly wanted to bundle him in a huge hug and take care of him the way he deserved to be taken care of. Again Cory Anderson’s writing is phenomenal with his characterisation, I’m usually really bad at reading characters as the age they are but subtlety is woven through the pages reminding me constantly that Jack is just 17, yet he endures. I’m truly welling up remembering all that he went through, and it was frighteningly realistic at every turn. This could be any family fallen on exceptionally hard times. Adorable Matty, wise beyond his years as Jack tries desperately to help him hold on to his childhood, and Ava a shining beacon of goodness who’s intimated history is perhaps most harrowing of all. Yet, they all endure. I also challenge any reader to name a villain as horrifying as Bardem, cold, calculated, brutal and truly without humanity, he just needed to appear on the page to fill me with dread without needing to say a word.

Yes, this is a shining example of a great cat and mouse thriller, but it is so much more than that. I couldn’t put it down, the chapters rolling gloriously together, the narrative flowed like a river approaching a waterfall, gaining speed until I was pulled over the edge and into the frozen world below, where my heart broke. Emotional, powerful and raw, this is a book that will stay with me and one that I highly recommend you find time to read.


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