Published by Delacorte Press on March 6th 2018
Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.
Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.
But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.
Each of them wonders: How different would my life be if this hadn’t happened? And now that it has . . . what’s next?
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Content warnings: death, loss, suicide, drugs, alcohol, anxiety, panic attacks
What a beautiful gem of a book. The Beauty that Remains is an excellent debut, and an even better exploration of grief and loss. We follow three main characters– Autumn, Logan, and Shay– who have all recently lost someone important in their lives. We see how each of them processes loss and death differently, and eventually, we find out how their stories and lives intertwine.
My very favorite thing about this book, speaking of which, was the multiple perspectives. Autumn’s best friend has died in a car crash; Logan’s ex has committed suicide; and Shay’s twin sister has died of leukemia. Each POV character had a distinct voice, and though they all experienced similar tragedies, they struggle with different issues in the aftermath of those tragedies. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think Shay was my favorite voice. I related deeply to her struggles with anxiety, and I think she processed grief in a similar way to me. Although, I will say, I loved the slight mystery element in Logan’s perspective, and I also loved the unexpected friendship he forms (I won’t spoil it). And every time I read one of Autumn’s chapters, I just wanted to wrap her up in a giant hug. I really appreciated the way all the main characters’ were connected, too. I’m always on board with the idea that music unites people, especially in times of grief and hardship. Even though it sounds cheesy, making music with my choir has been the only thing that got me through my toughest mental health times.
Oh, and the diversity among the main characters? Fantastic. Autumn is Korean, but has been adopted by white parents. Her love interest, as well as her best friend, are both Latinx. Logan is gay, and his ex-boyfriend is queer. Shay and her love interest are both black. I’m happy that so many readers will have the chance to see themselves represented in the pages of this book. I can tell that Ashley Woodfolk put a lot of effort into getting this representation right, and I know that at least the black representation is #ownvoices.
Another great element of this story? The writing. Ashley Woodfolk’s prose is striking and lovely, and there are lots of beautiful, quotable passages. Plus, her words flow easily from one page and one chapter to the next. I read most of this book in one sitting on an airplane, because even though it’s a quiet, character-driven novel as opposed to a fast-paced, plot-driven story, I felt invested in what happened to our protagonists.
Overall, I think readers who gravitate toward heavier, more emotional contemporaries will adore and appreciate this book. It explores grief in a thoughtful way, and these characters will stick with me for a while. I highly recommend checking this one out when it releases in March!
Have you read The Beauty that Remains? If so, who was your favorite POV character? If not, do you plan to pick it up?