The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk (DRC): On Grief, Music, and Friendship

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4 stars

Autumn, Shay, and Logan have all lost someone close to them recently, and it’s turned their lives upside down.

Autumn’s best friend, Tavia, was lost to a car crash. Shay’s now left twinless without Sasha. Logan is left even more heartbroken before when his ex-boyfriend Bram overdosed.

They were brought together by music, torn apart by grief. Is music enough to bring them together once more?

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This was really good. Really good. So many people will love this novel, and I had a great time reading.

Books about grief are always tricky to write, but I think Woodfolk really went towards it in a unique but tactful way, and she was really able to convey the characters’ stories.

This is probably my favorite part of the book–how relatable the characters were on a non-grief level. They had struggles and issues that many of us could relate to–even if we haven’t lost someone–and that’s what really made this a great book.

They’re a diverse bunch (Autumn’s Asian, Shay’s black, Logan’s gay), and yet they don’t read like “My life is dominated by this one diverse aspect about me” but rather, read like they’re people just like you, even if they’re not straight or white or whatever you are. I really loved this embracing of the diversity in a natural way that really made it interesting and the furthest thing from tokenism.

All the characters had something anyone could relate to and they struggled with things outside of their grief, which was something I really liked.

But the grief aspect itself was also really well done, and I can’t personally comment on “grief done right” if there’s even such a thing, but I think it addressed a lot of the aspects that came with this.

One of the reasons I docked that star was because it didn’t get as intense as I wanted it to. Although this is a contemporary and they don’t usually get that intense, I was really looking for a good cry, but I didn’t get one.

Maybe that means I’m actually emotionally stable for once, but in this case I really do think that I just wasn’t getting that intense gush of emotions that would lead me to cry along with the characters. This was something I always hope to get from books about grief, which was why this was kind of a letdown in this aspect.

But despite this, I think many other people can (and have) related to this and it’s definitely possible this will resonate with you more on the grief aspect than it did with me.

I also had a couple issues just with the structure.

By the end of the story, you’re like “Wow! Woodfolk is a true genius–it all came together and I’m just–asfdjlsk,” but at the beginning, I have to admit I was a little confused.

Initially it was kind of difficult to distinguish between Autumn, Shay, and Logan seeing that they all are in a similar place in their journey (recently lost someone), and the only crosscurrents I was seeing was a like for Unraveling Lovely, the band that Logan used to play in, Shay used to manage, and Autumn used to like partly because her best friend’s brother was someone she had a crush on (I think I got that right).

So the initial relationship between the three was a little fuzzy, but it got clearer throughout the novel and ended up being super fun and enjoyable just to see them intertwine.

Besides that well formation of the plot, I also found this to be well-paced and a pretty quick read. TW for suicide.

Overall, this is a really good book and although I couldn’t connect with it on some aspects as much as other people did, I think you should definitely give this a shot if it seems like something you’d like. It was a fun read and I’m glad I got the chance to read this! I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Woodfolk and whatever she writes next!

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!

much love, vicky

Have you ever read a book about grief? If so, which one?

One thought on “The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk (DRC): On Grief, Music, and Friendship

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