The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells

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“Even though I knew her well, I never met her family. By the time we were together, it was as though she’s moved on, shedding them like a skin.”

April Moon… a goddess that is mooned over, sorry I couldn’t resist. Noah Callaway is supposed to be a lawyer and one would think it would take some grit to work in such a career. However, Noah’s character is weak, still stuck in the mess of having loved his goddess. He is someone who seems to volunteer for every person he encounters to use and abuse him. April certainly does, his friend Will is a cancer he should have cut out long ago, and the list just grows of all the people who hurt and bully him. It’s hard to feel sorry for anyone who takes it lying down, isn’t it? April, the mysteries surrounding her made it hard to connect and feel compassion for her. One minute she is in Noah’s life, the next she is done and all the reasons don’t add up until much later- making it hard for the reader to feel much compassion for her. In fact, she doesn’t seem like much of a goddess at all, nor worth all his pining. But that IS the point, reader. In kindness to Noah’s fool heart, it’s not that far from reality when people build a person’s character (male or female) to mythic proportions. Lord knows I’ve scratched my head thinking ‘what does my loved one see in this terrible person?’ There’s no rhyme or reason to why people turn lunatic for love. The disconnect between what the reader is seeing and what Noah neglects to is likely what the author is getting at.

The other narrator that pops in and out threw me off at times. Just when I would be making sense of the plots and sinister plans the italics would arrive and I would think ‘who are you and why are you interrupting this story’. Ella, okay- you are a mess in terrible situations much like the goddess was. I know it makes sense later but it bothered me. Maybe a story of her own would be interesting, actually, for a young crowd. I think I would have preferred her presence in the story maybe in a separate chapter? There are many improbable incidents, and anyone that has ever been in hospital knows generally it’s a tight ship but not so in April’s case. At least, it sure should horrify us all if anyone can just walk into the ICU and work on someone that isn’t his patient.  She’s killed someone, or has she? April overdosed, but why? Knowing Noah is a crime writer, it’s a wonder he didn’t look into April long before now. You would think he would have resources, for someone so obsessed with his first love, the woman he had dreams of wedded bliss for. He is the slowest one to have the truth dawn on him.

What did work is Noah’s blindness to who April truly was. He is supposed to be so deeply in love with her and yet can’t pick up on someone who is damaged, suffering, struggling and it’s a shock to him when she doesn’t stay and marry him? Love is blind and it makes it hard for anyone to think much of Noah. More in love with a dream he created, erasing April with his projections of who he wanted her to be. It’s dangerous to idolize someone you’re meant to love. Will is a nasty piece and his character is spot on. I wish we could take some of Will’s power and inject Noah, he would be less of a drag. Will’s character is exposed fully in the end, and people get what’s coming to them. If nothing else, this is certainly a story of Noah waking up to himself.

April, while once everything was disclosed I felt sorry for her, I have to admit- I wasn’t thinking ‘oh, what you did makes so much sense, you had no choice.’ In fact, I can’t even fathom it! That doesn’t seem like the kindness way to … well, I think you have to read it yourself.  I didn’t go away from it thinking ‘oh you’re so strong for doing what you did, that WAS the only choice.” I just thought, ‘are you kidding me?” Also, she is a mess but had become a therapist oh and there is something maybe magical about her, or something… it’s hard to explain.  SO here is my problem… why couldn’t she use that gift on herself? And the mess she is caught up in, it was an interesting story- to die for I suppose. I wonder if maybe there wasn’t too much going on. I was dizzied by the Ella/Will/April situation. Reading about Ella and her dreams I thought ‘wait, is this going into a paranormal story?’  It’s a strange mix of unrequited (or not, it depends on your perspective) love story meets medical horror blended with maybe a tinge of supernatural and a smack in the face at the end, a story that doesn’t become a happily ever after, which lends the book more respect. I am still chewing on this, because there are mistakes and unlikely happenings but it’s still got moments where I was shocked by things everyone did. I think a book club can have fun fights over it all. Some will be absorbed, some will question the dots and how they connect, others will hate April and Noah when it’s meant to be Will we all hate. A lot to chew on. I can’t wait to see what everyone has to say.

 

Kensington Books

Publication Date July 26 2016

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