New Release: 3-6-2018
The cover of this book is a promise of the beauty within. 4 stories are interwoven with each other to show how different families and teenagers deal with very different kinds of losses in very different ways. It’s like Love Actually, if Love Actually was about untimely teenager deaths, those left behind, and the common threads that connect them all together in grief and life.
Ashley Woodfolk’s debut novel The Beauty That Remains was provided by Delacourte Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I have read other books like this one. Books that ask the question “How do we deal with those gone too soon?” Cancer deaths, accidents, suicide – you don’t have to look far in YA to find these kinds of situations and the effects of the deaths on families and friends. Woodfolk includes ALL of these themes in her debut, but adds another question to the usual YA grief recipe.
How do we move past the loss of a loved one when they are all around us on social media?
The most important part of this novel is how it makes us question the ever-present social media craze. How many selfies does a teenager take in a day and post to Instagram or Snapchat? How many videos on Youtube? What happens when a young person’s existence isn’t just their body and relationships but also an online presence that can outlive them?
Before there was a cellphone and camera in the hands of every 8-18 year old, if something like this happened we mourned, attended the funerals, felt the missing pieces in our daily lives, and then eventually we found a way to heal over that hole and reshape our world to fit the life without that loved one in it.
How do we heal over a wound when the person isn’t truly gone? When we can watch a multitude of videos online and hear their voice and see them move? When their face and comments are everywhere to be seen forever? How do we move on and accept a world without the dead when they haven’t completely left us?
The short answer is that we can’t. The quick solution is to have a failsafe on an account that deletes it after an amount of time of inactivity or perhaps anyone under 18 must have a parent on the account as well (or if not that, then if an account holder is proven to be under 18, a parent must be provided with the username and password in order to manage or shut down the account). Shut it down is a fast, quick, and easy solution.
The longer answer is that no one is quite sure. This is a question unique to our time, and it’s one that mental health professionals, counselors, and families themselves will find a way to answer, hopefully to preserve the sanity and healthy grieving of anyone affected by any of these types of circumstances. A few regulations might not go amiss either, to make sure that social media companies provide the information that grieving families need to heal and move forward, while still remaining legally on point.
Don’t rush to this book, because there are a lot of triggering stories and scenarios in it. If you have a fresh, recent loss this book will hurt. It really covers its bases. But if you would like a story that asks some important questions and makes you think about a world that young people are currently living in and figuring out, this is a magnificent book to pick up. Go get you some.