In the small town of Hannah Lake, everyone knows everyone, but they certainly know wrestling star Ambrose Young, devastatingly beautiful, kind, on the road to a college scholarship and stardom. Fern Taylor, on the other hand, is the local pastor’s daughter, used to melting into the background aiding her cousin, Bailey. On the 11th September 2001, everything changes. As the town watches, horrified as a plane crashes close to home, five boys decide to fight for their country, one comes home. Could anything be beautiful again?
Oh my goodness, what a novel. What a novel. It’s been quite a while since I fell in love with a good work of fiction and Amy Harmon has produced something that will be hard to beat. A novel that focuses on love, loss, sacrifice, friendship and beauty I very nearly cried at multiple points. I didn’t know when the novel was set and by coincidence, I started reading on the anniversary of 9/11, which just made it hit harder. To think and imagine how it impacted young adults at the time and those who came home from war a shell of the person they were before.
I really felt connected to all of the characters. Fern was a brilliant character, I cared about her because she wasn’t a perfect girl. There’s definitely an ugly duckling vibe to her, but she doesn’t seem to feel sorry for herself constantly she gets on with it and just accepts who she is. I think, however, my favourite character of the entire novel is Bailey I like his wit, his outlook and just the optimism he has. I loved the relationship between Fern and Bailey too, there was genuine love and friendship it went much deeper than just being cousins.
The subject matter is incredibly tough and the way that Harmon has managed to weave in hope and a heartfelt message of beauty coming from within was wonderful. This is definitely going to be on my recommendation list. I also want to get my hands on more of Harmon’s novels. I gave this a very rare 5 stars. This is a truly wonderful book, Harmon makes you think about these characters and issues for days after. I was absolutely in love throughout, even though it made me want to sob. I’d recommend it to everyone!
Thank you to Netgalley for providing this Advance Reader Copy.