Saturday, May 15, 2021

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker


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Well this book took me a bit to get through to the end. Mostly because it broke my heart over and over and I had to read it in bits and pieces. 

I've heard so much about this book--tons of rave reviews, and even a few friends telling me about it. So I bought it last month and have been reading it since May 1st. Some books I can sail through; others take me a bit. This was a "take me a bit" kind of book. It's heavy. It's not a happy ever after. And even for the first 100 pages, I was wondering if I'd made a mistake and it wasn't a book for me. 

But I kept with it, and wow, what a powerful, haunting novel. It's a bit of a thriller, murder mystery, and a family drama all rolled into one. It reminded me of Jane Harper's novels-the desolate feeling I get when I read them. 

In a nutshell: Duchess and Robin Radley are two young kids who live with their mother, Star, in the small town of Cape Haven, California. They are dirt poor. Walker is the town Chief of Police, and he's a childhood friend of Star. He watches over her and the kids and tries to ease their burden as best he can. Vincent is, after 30 years, being released from prison for the murder of Star's younger sister, Sissy. He struck her with his car and drove off, unaware he'd killed Sissy. Vincent was only fifteen at the time. Now he's 45 and being released from prison, back to the town where he grew up. Star, Vincent, and Walker were fast friends and had a special bond. 

Duchess is a fierce 13 year old--she's sassy as hell, tough as nails, and protective of her mom and brother. But she is only a child, and it's exhausting to read about Duchess constantly working to keep Robin cared for, and food on the table. 

Vincent returns home, and shortly thereafter, tragedy strikes again with devastating shockwaves felt by Walker, Duchess, and Vincent. Nothing but tragedy in this novel, over and over. Just when you get slightly comfortable that Duchess will find some peace, wham! fate strikes. 

I can't tell you anymore. You'll have to read it yourself. It was such a good story; it will remain with me for a long time. I don't even know what else to say. Read it, if you can!

Rating: 5/6 for a haunting exploration of family, actions and consequences, love, and paying for past sins. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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