#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2020
So here we are. My book of the year for 2020. If you arrived here via my Twitter post, you likely have a good idea of the book and who the author is. If you haven’t then do bear with me. This author is, for me, someone who is able to create truly memorable and unforgettable characters. He creates worlds so rich in atmosphere, authenticity and narrative beauty that you cannot switch off, even when the story has ended. He can make you laugh, he can make you want to cry. He always, always, makes me want to read more. With a central character whose determination and integrity truly belies their ages, and who will make your heart break just as often as she will make you smile, it is no wonder this book is at the top of many a reading list this year. This isn’t the first time he’s been a top pick for me, probably won’t be the last, but my top read of 2020 is …
We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker
For fans of Jane Harper’s The Dry comes a powerful novel about the lengths we will go to keep our family safe. This is a story about good and evil and how life is lived somewhere in between.
Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.
Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.
Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.
Murder, revenge, retribution.
How far can we run from the past, when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?
We begin with tragedy, we end with a sense of hope. The road between the two is paved with a myriad of emotions, from laughter to anger and everything in between. I don’t know how I can say more about. this book than I did in my original review as everything there still applies. The book gave me sleepless nights. Writing this post has given me sleepless nights. Why? Because I just don’t know what to say to do it justice. This is a story of how one bad decision, one fateful night, ended in tragedy, the repercussions of which were felt for years, a kind of butterfly effect of tragedy that seems destined to never end. This is a murder investigation, wrapped up in a mystery and a story of undying love. A tale of family and of friendship. Most importantly this is a story of courage. The courage of one little girl in the face of absolute tragedy. The Outlaw Duchess Day Radley. What a gal. Wise beyond her years, more mature than anyone her age should ever be expected to be, and absolutely devoted to her mother and her younger brother, Robin. Chris Whitaker has a real knack for writing characters that you care about, and Manny, chancer that he was, remains one of my favourite characters of all times. But Duchess … Duchess is something else. Cynical, hard, focused but ultimately a touch of a dreamer too, she is someone I both respected and felt such emotion for. Never pity – she was too fierce a character to allow that to happen – but just heartbreak that someone so young could have to face so much. That is the intensity of the emotion that Mr Whitaker was able to elicit in me, and I know I am not the only one. Compare her determination and independence with the other lead character, Walk, a man who has lived his life in regret trying to make up for his past decisions, and you have a perfectly balanced novel that will keep you intrigued, and so totally emotionally invested.
When I wrote my review I sum it up as follows. “This is a book about secrets and lies. About the lengths that people will go to to protect those that they love – about the ultimate sacrifices that they are willing to make for one another. About the unassailable bond between friends, family and lovers that spans decades and shapes a lifetime of hurt. Of how one single decision can change everything. Whilst I may have guessed in part how the story was going to play out, I still wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact I felt when the truth was finally revealed. It is an ending that is both full of sorrow and yet tinged with hope for the future, this is a very classy piece of fiction, with a stunning narrative packed with vivid description. “
It is, in a word, unforgettable.
Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you have a fabulous festive season and beyond.