The brutal winter of Idaho, with its frigid cold and bone-chilling wind, is a dangerous place that shows no mercy. This desolate landscape is a reflection of life for seventeen year old Jack Dahl, who is having to salvage the shattered family left behind by his convict father, sent to prison for a drug deal gone wrong. When one thing after another leaves Jack and his little brother, Matty, alone on the verge of starvation with the threat of separation by DHS, Jack determines to do whatever is necessary to see them through this, even if it means tracking down the drug money his father hid before his arrest. While Ava Bardem has never lacked the material comforts of life her existence has been no less bleak being raised by Victor Bardem, a ruthless man who controls with cold fear and manipulation and has taught Ava there is no room for love if you want to survive. As Lehland Dahl’s former associate Victor has been obsessed with finding the missing money. When he learns that Jack is sniffing around for it, Victor sets his crosshairs squarely on Jack. Yet, Jack receives help from the most unlikely source, Ava. Her choice to go against her father might be the only thing that makes the difference or it will lead to a terrible end for Ava, Jack, and Matty.
What Beauty There Is takes you on such a compelling and captivating journey. While the scenery is dark and depressing, the characters have a depth and veracity that makes you forget they are fictional. The layers of Jack and Ava’s essence reveal a depth of character that is innately good and tenacious. Even when the choices they are forced to make are not “good” their intentions never stray from the selfless determination to do whatever they can for the people that mean the most to them. This is even more evident when confronted with a ruthless and deprived being like Victor Bardem. Be forewarned, this is a heart-wrenching and heart-racing story that will have you anxious to turn the page yet unable to put it down.
Cory Anderson”s debut novel What Beauty There Is exceeds one’s expectations of a rookie author. Written from both Ava and Jack’s perspective with each chapter starting with Ava’s voice in narrating the cryptic implications of their story then moving to Jack’s point of view for the flashback to the real time events. This creative technique contributes to the high level of suspense that saturates this dark and brutal thriller. Cory has also found the perfect balance between the thrilling action, as Victor stalks Jack and Ava, and the intimate personal experiences between Jack, Ava, and Matty which ultimately makes this a story of sacrificial love and hope.