We've lost everything . . . and found ourselves.
Loss pulled Autumn, Shay, and Logan apart. Will music bring them back together?
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 has always turned to writing love songs when his real 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 who's struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.
Despite the odds, one band's music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.
"Woodfolk's debut cuts deeply, and then wipes your tears away. Wrenching, heartfelt, and vividly human." --Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Jan. 14, 10:48 a.m.
I just saw you yesterday.
There’s no way this is real. It can’t be.
I keep waiting for you to call.
Tavia may not be on Hangouts right now. She’ll see your messages later.
Sent: Jan. 16, 5:17 p.m.
I stared at my phone through most of your funeral.
I could have said goodbye to you in my room with some vanilla-scented candles, a few of your favorite songs, violets, and a can of orange soda. But instead we had to do this public ritual where we all stood around, watching each other cry. When I woke up, I already knew today would be the worst day of my life.
When we get to the church, your brother walks straight to the front and kisses the top of the casket, but I can’t go up there. So I just head to the second row of pews and sit down at the very end. I look at my phone, at the infinite stream of pictures of you, and I try not to look anywhere else. For the first time ever, I feel grateful for how many selfies you took, and I feel bad that I always teased you about being conceited. If I didn’t have hundreds of digital squares with you in them, I’m not sure how I’d remember to breathe. After a while, when I do look up, I use different squares--ones of tinted sunshine spilling through the stained-glass windows--to mark time as they move across the room.
I’m sitting with your family. Your mom is squeezing rosary beads in her hand, weeping in a way that doesn’t make any noise. Your dad’s staring straight ahead, but not really looking at anything. Dante sits down beside me after he kisses your casket, and I can feel that he’s crying by the way his shoulder moves against mine.
Part of me wants to shift away from him, but I’m frozen.
My family’s sitting a few rows behind me. My mother’s dress is impeccable, but her blue eyes are sad, and my dad has had his head bent the whole time, like a world without you is one he doesn’t want to see. Between their blond heads is Willow’s angled black bob, and you’d love this haircut on her if you were here. Sometime between winter break ending and yesterday, she bleached the bluntly cut ends and dyed them hot pink. She looks like a K-Pop star despite her puffy, red eyes. When she flew in from college yesterday, she crawled into bed with me the minute she got home and rubbed small circles on my back.
Willow sees me looking at her, so she squeezes out of their pew and comes up to mine. You know I don’t really look like my sister, even on a good day. But with her hair the way it is now--so full and sharp and pink (and mine the way that it always is: too long and fine and flat)--we could be strangers. I look like the “before” scene in the Korean dramas we watched together, where the girls miraculously turn pretty.
But when Willow reaches me, she touches my flat black hair, like it’s silk. She holds my hand, as if it’s made of glass, and looks at me a little too closely. I squeeze her fingers before letting them go to look back down at my phone, and she steps back and stays quiet. She doesn’t try to make me talk, which is a miracle, because I thought she was going to be pushy--you know how my sister can get. But she was perfect. People forget how much silence can help at times like these.
No one in my family has said anything, but I can tell how they feel by the way my sister reaches for my hand. The way my mother stares at me. How differently my dad says my name. They’re so happy I wasn’t with you that night that they can’t keep their hands, eyes, and voices away from me. But every time I think about the fact that I wasn’t, I feel like I’m drowning.
When you went to Alexa’s party without me, I was upset that you didn’t beg me to come out with you; that you went, even though I didn’t want to go. It’s stupid, but it hurt, and Margo and Faye were there too, so there wasn’t even anyone for me to text and complain. I was just going to eat ice cream, read a book, and go to bed early.
Then Dante called.
I went to your house to hang out with him--to have some fun without you because you were doing things without me.
And now I have to live with this: I was flirting with him when I could have been stopping you.
For some reason, the priest asks everyone to stand. I wasn’t paying attention, so when Dante pulls me up and into his side, I don’t realize right away that it’s time to pray. His touch takes me away from the world inside my phone, where you’re still grinning and singing and alive. And for a second, I just collapse against your brother.
I can’t stand on my own in a world where you don’t exist.
Dante reads the weight of my body as an invitation. He tucks my head under his chin, and I feel a few of his tears hit my scalp where my hair’s parted.
It’s so complicated--the way I feel about him, but I can’t think about that now, when I can barely stay on my feet. So I hook my hand around his hip and hold on tight. And when the sounds around me return and I hear the priest praying, I look at the photo of you that sits at the front of the church in a wreath of violets instead of closing my eyes.
After a few minutes of standing here anchored to Dante, I start to feel a little less like I’m sinking. Or at least like if I’m going down, he won’t let me hit the bottom alone.
At the cemetery, Willow holds my hand again like a good big sister, and I lean into her like I did with Dante at the church. She cries and cries while the priest sprinkles holy water over the grave, and I just stare at the dirty hem of the priest’s robe. He says your full name the way your grandmother says it, at the same time as I read it in the obituary I’m somehow still holding.
“Oak-TAH-bia Bi-oh-LEH-tah SO-toe.”
Octavia Violeta Soto.
And my whole body goes cold.
I’m supposed to drop a handful of dirt into your grave like everyone else a few minutes later, but after your dad starts crying, I just can’t. By the time it’s my turn it’s raining, and most of the soil has turned to mud anyway. So instead, I shove the damp obituary into my pocket. I pull petals from a yellow rose, one at a time, and let them fall--bright against the dark earth all around them--right before the casket sinks into the ground.
I don’t try to figure out if anyone loves me as I yank away each velvety petal, the way you used to (He loves me? He loves me not? Autumn, he loves me!). I just tell the rose how much I’m going to miss you. How much I already do.
I miss you.
I miss you.
I miss you.
There’s never an I miss you not.
And there aren’t enough petals on the flower. There aren’t enough petals in the world.
In the limo, Dante has to pull the thorny stem out of my trembling hand because I’m still gripping it, even though the naked and ugly bud is the only thing left.
Hours after our friends and your extended family and my family leave your house, I stay. I help Dante inventory all the frozen casseroles and stews and empanadas that people leave behind on your kitchen counters.
When we finish, I pull out my phone again and get lost in it. But Dante starts pacing around your living room, very much in the here and now.
He kicks the leg of your dining room table. He punches a wall and says it’s all bullshit. I don’t want to be here to witness Dante explode, but it’s been almost impossible for me to leave your house since you died. I still can’t make myself go.
Dante opens and closes his hand after he hits the wall. It settles into a tight fist, like he’s holding one of his drumsticks. He aims his angular dark eyes at me, and says, “You think it’s bullshit too, don’t you?”
He’s talking about the comments on your photos. They’ve been rolling in nonstop all week.
I stay quiet. I look down at my phone and read a few of the newest ones.
I don’t have a right to say anything. I’ve been looking through your photos since the accident, just like everyone else. I’ve been clicking on every single picture you ever posted, reading over your captions and hashtags, like they’re prayers. I’ve been ignoring the “Rest in peace,” “We’ll miss you,” and “Only the good die young” messages people who barely even spoke to you have been leaving beneath your selfies. There are more broken heart emojis in the comments than there are kids at our school.
But Dante’s right. They are all bullshit. So I look back up at him and nod.
With my approval, Dante turns to look at the other side of the room. I don’t know what he’s going to say next until he says it.
“We need to get it deleted.”
I’d forgotten your father was in the room, but that’s who Dante’s talking to now, probably because your dad has always been the kind of dad who gets things done. Like that time he argued with our teacher for giving us detention for passing notes, when really I was giving you a Tylenol in an origami box because you had cramps. Or the time he volunteered to coach our girls’ soccer team when we were in middle school after the paid coach got let go. But ever since your accident, he just kind of sits there, like nothing matters. Or maybe like everything does, but he doesn’t know where to start.
Dante can’t delete your accounts. Your mom already cut off your cell phone. I only know that because I was calling your number over and over again on speakerphone while I sat in the school parking lot yesterday, just so your voice could fill the air like it used to.
I wanted to memorize the way you sounded. Where your tone changed and how I could hear a song playing softly in the background. Now I can’t get your voice out of my head.
Hey! You’ve reached Tavia’s phone. It’s probably in my pocket or in my purse or on my bed, and I’m sure I really want to talk to you. So leave me something lovely because I love you.
The last time I called, I got an automated message instead. And it was so shocking, to go from hearing you to hearing We’re sorry. You have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service. If you feel you’ve received this message in error, please check the number and try again.
I didn’t need to check the number, but I did try again.
I don’t look at your dad or Dante as I find your name, press down to call you, and put my phone on speaker. And when that recorded robot voice tells us your number’s been disconnected, your dad looks at me from across the room. He shakes his head, like he can’t deal; mutters something in Spanish; and stands up to leave. A minute later, I hear the front door slam.
I look at Dante, and everything about him softens. The hard angles of his face become curves. The onyx of his eyes melts into molasses.
“Did you know,” I ask, “that her number was already dead?” I flush a little after I hear myself say that word. He shakes his head.
I wish I’d taken screenshots of every photo you ever sent me, every selfie with filters that made your eyes sparkle or gave you the ears and nose of some adorable animal, because those were private, meant only for me, and the ones Dante wants to delete are public, for everyone to see. But the private stuff only lasted a few seconds, and now those are gone forever, just like you. With your phone turned off too, I need to preserve every piece of you that hasn’t disappeared.
So while he seems gentler, I ask Dante not to get rid of your accounts.
“With her phone gone, these pictures are some of the last things we have left that are purely her.”
He still looks like he wants to punch something, but he just keeps watching me, quietly.
Even though I know there isn’t, I say, “I’ll see if there’s a way to disable the comments.”
He frowns, but then he nods.
“And I’ll post something asking people to stop,” I add.
I don’t say that I know all your passwords and that I could erase every trace of you in a few seconds.
I don’t say that I still send you instant messages and emails or that during every free moment I have I watch the long-ago-posted videos of you singing and playing the piano. I don’t tell Dante that as soon as I walk out of his house, I’ll put my earbuds in and dial my own voice mail because you left me a funny message six months ago that I’m so grateful I never got around to deleting.
I haven’t cried, but I don’t say that, either. My hands shake every time I think about your name, and Dante can’t know that.
He has enough on his mind.
From the look on his face I can tell he’s thinking about how we found out about the crash. Some idiot from our high school took a picture of your upside-down car and posted it to his story with a black-and-white filter and the caption SHIIIIIT. Just saw the worst accident. Perry, of all people, texted a screenshot of the picture to me with a message:
Holy shit. This isn’t Tavia’s car, is it?
It was. The Unraveling Lovely bumper sticker, the one we designed for the band’s tour last summer, was a dead giveaway.
I knew you were on your way to see Perry, but he had no idea. I didn’t even message him back.
I can feel Dante looking at me. He probably knows I’m remembering that night too.
“You okay?” he asks.
Excerpted from "The Beauty That Remains"
Copyright © 2019 Ashley Woodfolk.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Beauty That Remains (Hardcover) by Ashley Woodfolk Probably one of the most moving books i have read for young adults in a long time. This book had me in tears, and nearly sobbing. The story follows three groups of friends after sudden teenage deaths. One teen dies of cancer, one of a car accident and one of suicide. How these affect those closest to them and their families is eye opening. Having dealt with the last one i can see the similarities. The book also has a multiracial view point, as each group of characters have ethnicity and cultural differences. It may be something that should be read in high school to help kids deal with loss, and understand the ramifications of their own behaviors. Beautifully told.
The beauty that remains is a heartfelt and beautiful book about grief and the process of healing. It offers one of the most realistic and raw portrayals of loss through the narratives of three teenagers who’ve lost their loved ones: My Thoughts ► Autumn has lost her best friend to a fatal car accident. ► Logan has lost his ex-boyfriend to suicide. ►And Shay has lost her twin sister to cancer. All three have been affected in different ways and all three have varying coping mechanisms. Autumn is having trouble figuring out her emotions; she’s stuck in a cycle of blame– blaming herself, others and even her best friend herself for the accident. Logan hides his complicated feelings for his ex behind alcohol. And Shay, who’s experiencing panic attacks and anxiety, hides from her grief. Autumn, Shay and Logan are connected through music as well as death and grief, but ever since the death of their loved ones, creating/enjoying music has been almost impossible. We follow all three as they struggle through everyday life, trying to move on past the gaping hole in their lives. This book addresses this heavy topic well, handling it with care but never shying away from the gritty truth of it. And it manages to be uplifting while doing it; not bogged down with sadness and pain. I also immensely enjoyed how diverse the cast of characters were and how music was a connecting stream throughout the whole novel. There were times when it felt too repetitive and I started losing interest, but for the most part I enjoyed it. Overall, The beauty that remains is a well-written novel perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and anyone searching for realistic, enjoyable reads that pack emotional punches. Praise / Criticism Diversity factor: Black, Korean-American and gay MCs Diverse set of side characters Great portrayal of grief Heart-wrenching but uplifting story Complex characters ..................................................................................................... Felt a bit repetitive at times I needed a bit more plot-wise (there wasn't much going on to really grip me) Trigger Warnings ►Suicide ►Panic attacks
I have so many feels about THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS. I'm still processing my thoughts and while I'll try my best to write them out as a review, I know I will not do the story justice. The focus of the story is on Logan, Autumn, and Shay. While all three experience a loss of someone very close to them, Woodfolk beautifully manages to give them each a distinct voice and weaves their stories together naturally without it feeling contrived. There isn't a right or wrong way to grieve. There is only going through it. While they each navigated their grief Logan, Autumn, and Shay also had a connection to a popular local band. I really enjoyed this side of the story. That is what ultimately brought them together. They just had to find their own way there. Well done. Looking forward to seeing what Ashley Woodfolk has in store for us in her next release.
The Beauty That Remains is a timeless, important, sad but assuring novel about family, friends, love and loss. This book literally made me cry on the first chapter. WHAT IS IT WITH AUTHORS MAKING ME EMOTIONAL AS EARLY AS THE FIRST CHAPTER??? When I’m not even attached yet with the characters. I think this book has a good writing style, but it became, at one point, kind of slow for me. At first, I really loved how easy it was to read. It seemed like the words are just flowing through like a river and I couldn’t stop reading it. But then, when I’m at least 50% into the book, I felt like I haven’t reached the climax of the story yet; although there were already mysteries and other situations that kept me curious and interested. The innovation in each chapter [social media posts] was actually cool for me because they were like small glimpses into the lives of the dead characters. I also love how it has multiple characters’ points of view, and what’s best is that they’re like just talking to me like I am their best friend. Because of this, I felt so connected with each character which is awesome because… attachments with fictional characters are good? Another thing I like about this book is how the main characters are so different yet so alike in so many ways. Like for example, they all have different opinions and personalities but they all lost someone they really really loved. [I WISH I COULD SAY MORE BUT I WANT TO KEEP THIS REVIEW AS NON-SPOILERY AS IT COULD BE.] But really, WHAT I LOVE THE MOST ABOUT THIS BOOK IS ITS DIVERSITY. I love how a lot of people have been represented in this book: people of color, people struggling with mental health issues, people coping with their problems through alcohol or drugs, members of the LGBTQ+ community, vloggers (!!!), artists, musicians, and everyone in between. Emphasis on vloggers because this is the first novel I’ve read that has a representative from the vlogging community because the blogging community are more represented. While reading this book, I couldn’t help but wish that I’ve read it when I was still studying… and depressed. It feels so good reading a story that you could totally relate to. I believe that anyone who reads this book can relate to it, in one way or another, whether you’ve lost someone you loved or not.
If someone asked now, “What does love look like?” I’d tell them it was the lies in your eyes. Books centred on tragedies usually fall in one of three categories for me – either the fall completely flat, or they leave me curled up in under my blanket sobbing my eyes out or they devastate me, and still leave me with hope. The Beauty That Remains definitely left me in the last category. Ashley Woodfolk’s deep and haunting debut novel reminded me of Adam Silvera’s writing, along with one of my favourite elements in books (that we rarely see) – music – and I fell in love with it. MY THOUGHTS: 1. I love way this book was told. We had three narrators, and some incredibly developed secondary characters, each of whom were experiencing the devastating loss of a friend, ex or sister and it was their journey to reaching some kind of acceptance, through music. 2. I struggled to keep up with all the characters in the beginning of this book. All of them were equally important from each narrator, to the person they each lost, to their support systems, but THERE WERE TOO MANY PEOPLE thrown at me in the beginning. 3. Ashley Woodfolk’s writing was spectacular. It was slow paced, but really dove into the unbearable grief each teenager felt. It was heart-breaking, poignant and I am A HUGE FAN. 4. The cast was diverse and inclusive and I LOVED IT. Just off the top of my head, we had Asian rep, Hispanic rep and Gay rep and it dealt with depression, coping mechanisms, therapy and panic attacks with such finesse. 5. I honestly connected with Logan and Bram’s story right from the get go, and I was desperately craving more. 6. The only reason this book isn’t receiving a five star rating from me was that there was no definitive ending. I understand that you never truly finish grieving, but this book felt unfinished in a way I can’t fully explain. A spectacularly written book on loss that will make you feel. 4 stars.
“We all nod. We get it. There’s no way to measure grief.” I honestly don’t know what to say besides I ADORED this book. My heart broke in every imaginable way and was healed watching these characters on their journey. I felt their every pain, I laughed with them in their joy, and I was a crying mess multiple times. The Beauty That Remains is a stunning debut about grief, healing, and the things that bring us all together. Things I Liked EVERYTHING! (I’m not lying I loved everything about this book) This book is so emotionally resonant. I felt everything along with the characters. I wasn’t a passive reader, this book demands you engage and invest yourself. Their pain is visceral and I felt it. (and I cried many times). I loved the all characters we get. I feel like we really get to know each character individual and see how they handle grief differently, with each one having lost someone recently. Autumn recently lost her best friend, Tavia, and feels so empty and unsure - especially with the growing feelings developing between her and Tavia’s brother Dante. Logan is trying to rebuild after his ex-boyfriend died by suicide, and now he must deal with not only his grief, but also his guilt for how their breakup went down. Shay lost her twin sister to leukemia and is trying to convince everyone, including herself, that she’s fine. The characters are all going through so much and are dealing with it in different ways, learning as they go and making mistakes and trying to be okay. I connected with Autumn’s story immediately, and really became as invested in the others around the 40% mark. All the side characters were great too - they felt like their own people, who’s lives intersected with the 3 main character, but had their own lives and were dealing with their own grief. They were their own people, and we got to know them as their own people. I appreciate it. I really liked the mixed media elements woven through the story. We see texts, emails, blog posts and it really helped to establish both the characters who have passed, and their relationship with the characters who were still in the story. And I appreciate the incredible diversity that each character brings to the story. Autumn, and her sister Willow, are Korean Americans and adopted. Dante is Latino. Logan is gay. Shay is black. I loved seeing so much diversity in the story! Things I Didn’t Like There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like. I thought the connection through Logan’s former band, Unraveling Lovely, was the weakest part - but I appreciated the serendipitous nature of it. I would have prefered to establish some of the history earlier, because we really don’t get all the pieces that connect these characters until around the halfway mark. I just loved this book with my whole being. It was so amazing and made me an emotional wreck. I am confident in saying that this book will be one of my favorites of the year. The Beauty That Remains is a stunning debut about grief and healing that captures you from the very first page.
Absolutely stunning! The Beauty That Remains is a thoughtful, introspective, and emotionally driven debut. It's gut-wrenching as well as uplifting, and over time I began to care for Logan, Autumn, and Shay as if they were my own friends. As mention above, The Beauty That Remains introduces three protagonists. Logan, Autumn, and Shay are all dealing with loss, grief, and moving on. I found all three characters to be interesting as well as likable. I especially appreciated that they weren't all friends; instead, they were general acquaintances, sometimes overlapping but mostly sticking to their own social circles. Out of the three, I found Shay's story to be my favorite. Mostly because (a) I'm fascinated by twins in general and (b) because her voice just really came through to me. I will say, however, that the POVs, especially at first, sounded incredibly similar. Sometimes it was hard to remember who exactly I was reading about, but as the book continued, I found this to be less of a problem. What I love the most about this book, however, is the way in which Ashley paints grief. The Beauty That Remains shows that no one grieves exactly the same. Some are quiet with their grief and some are loud. Some can't bring themselves to cry, no matter how hard they try. Some cling to their last words, dwelling over the what-ifs. Ashley also addresses the good-and-bad that social media brings about when somebody dies. All three characters have their ups and downs when it comes to their loved one's social media accounts. One one side, all three of them appreciate that their loved one's accounts are still there, that they can still look at their Instagrams, Youtube channels, etc., but at the same time they suffer when deciding when enough is enough. This aspect really made me think. It's interesting in a way that someone can live on through their old posts, no mater how long ago they passed away. Additionally, Ashely brings everything full circle, she allows the characters to see the good in the "beauty that remains," and I loved the character development that occurred for this to happen. By the end, I felt that I left all three characters in a much better place than when I started. Overall, The Beauty That Remains is a standout debut. The writing is what especially stood out to me here, especially when it came to Ashley's observations and conclusions relating to grief and death.