When everything you love is in danger, how long can you keep running to survive?
Life can be brutal
Winter in Idaho. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.
Jack knew it
Jack Dahl has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d die for. Their mother is gone, and their funds are 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.
So did I
Ava lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father, a merciless man, has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one.
Did I feel the flutter of wings when Jack and I met? Did I sense the coming tornado?
But now Ava wants to break the rules – to let Jack in and open her heart. Then she discovers that Jack and her father are stalking the same money, and suddenly Ava is faced with a terrible choice: remain silent or speak out and help the brothers survive.
Looking back, I think I did . . .
Another fantastic blog tour from TheWriteReads! Doing something a bit different today as, unfortunately, due to lots of different circumstances, I haven’t quite finished this one. But I am a little over halfway, so this is going to be a midway point review! Keep an eye out for my full review once I have managed to finish it.
Anderson paints a bleak, realistic picture of life near the Rocky Mountains. After losing their mother, Jack decides to hunt for the drug money hidden by his father. But the path is full of dangers, and it soon becomes clear he can’t trust anyone. Not until he meets Ava, who might just be able to help the brothers.
Jack is a determined, resourceful young man, and it soon becomes apparent that although he doesn’t always make the best choices, he does what he feels is right for him and Matty. The big fear for him is losing his little brother to care, and he’ll do everything in his power to stop that from happening. But he’s intelligent, too, though he rarely lets others see that. Jack has to fight against a lot, and I think Anderson does a good job of portraying life below the poverty line, of showing what it really means to survive.
These kids are tough in the way kids shouldn’t have to be, and seeing what they go through even before the novel shifts towards the climax is heart-breaking. It’s a lot for young shoulders, and even though there do seem to be some adults who want to help Jack and Matty, it’s hard for Jack to see who he can trust and who won’t split the two boys up. It’s a very focused tale, and it really is Jack, Matty and Ava who pull us through. Matty is only a kid, and although he spends what time he can playing with his toys, it’s clear he’s mature beyond what he should be, and it’s unclear exactly how long he’ll get to keep playing.
Other reviewers have described it as raw, and I completely agree. The writing itself is, at times, beautiful, but in a really wrenching, real way. This is a brutal, unforgiving world, with characters you really root for. The other reactions to this book have made me really wonder what is waiting for me in the last half, and I have a feeling this book might just destroy me.
It’s a haunting book, one I think I’ll remember for a fair while after I finish it, and which – so far! – deserves to be wildly read. Keep an eye out for more of my thoughts soon.
Thank you to TheWriteReads for hosting another great tour, and for Penguin for providing me with a paperback copy of this so far unforgettable novel.
Cory Anderson is a winner of the League of Utah Writers Young Adult Novel Award and Grand Prize in the Storymakers Conference First Chapter Contest. She lives in Utah with her family. What Beauty There Is is her debut novel.