Thursday, March 04, 2021

Review: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker (audio)


Title: We Begin at the End
Author: Chris Whitaker
Narrator: George Newbern
Published: March 2021, Macmillan Audio
Length: 10 hours 30 minutes
Source: Netgalley


With We Begin at the End, Chris Whitaker has crafted an extraordinary novel about people who deserve so much more than life serves them. At times devastating, with flashes of humor and hope throughout, it is ultimately an inspiring tale of how the human spirit prevails and how, in the end, love - in all its different guises - wins.

There are two kinds of families: the ones we are born into and the ones we create.

Walk has never left the coastal California town where he grew up. He may have become the chief of police, but he’s still trying to heal the old wound of having given the testimony that sent his best friend, Vincent King, to prison decades before. Now, 30 years later, Vincent is being released.

Duchess is a 13-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. Her mother, Star, grew up with Walk and Vincent. Walk is in overdrive trying to protect them, but Vincent and Star seem bent on sliding deeper into self-destruction. Star always burned bright, but recently that light has dimmed, leaving Duchess to parent not only her mother but her five-year-old brother. At school the other kids make fun of Duchess - her clothes are torn, her hair a mess. But let them throw their sticks, because she’ll throw stones. Rules are for other people. She’s just trying to survive and keep her family together.

A 40-something-year-old sheriff and a 13-year-old girl may not seem to have a lot in common. But they both have come to expect that people will disappoint you, loved ones will leave you, and if you open your heart it will be broken. So when trouble arrives with Vincent King, Walk and Duchess find they will be unable to do anything but usher it in, arms wide closed.

My thoughts:  This is the first book I've read/listened to by Chris Whitaker and it will certainly not be the last. It was also one of my anticipated reads for the month and I'm so happy to say this emotionally charged, complex story totally delivers on all levels and then some!

This is one of those reviews where I know I will not be able to do justice to the book...but I will certainly try. My emotions were all over the place with this one...I was laughing one minute and then tearing up the next. I absolutely fell in love with Duchess - how could you not? A thirteen-year-old that calls herself an outlaw? This girl has seen more and had to do more in her young life than she should have to have...and she totally won me over. She is such a little spitfire, wise beyond her years and yet all I wanted to do was give her one big hug. I loved how protective she was of her brother, Robin and how important it was for her to keep her family together. 

Walk was an interesting character. I had a hard time making heads or tails of him at first but then he grew on me. He made a choice when he was a teenager that haunts him to this day involving his best friend, Vincent King, and now that Vincent King is in trouble again, Walk will do everything in his power to set things right.

There is a murder mystery that kept me engaged but I really loved the explorations of the relationships between the characters. To me...that is really what drove this book. I was rooting for them and hoping against hope that they would all end up on the right side of ok...however that might look.  

This book is about family...the one you are born into and the ones we create. It is about doing right by those we love and protecting them no matter what. Sometimes there are repercussions for those actions but there is always love behind those actions. This is definitely going to be a book I will not be forgetting anytime soon and I highly recommend it!

Audio thoughts: I enjoyed this audiobook. It was the first time I have listened to George Newbern and I thought he did a good job narrating. His pacing was just right and I found he infused just the right amount of emotion and tension when needed.


1 comment

  1. I won a copy of this book on Twitter, looking forward to reading it!


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