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We Begin at the End

af Chris Whitaker

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2862370,177 (4.19)5
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Viser 1-5 af 22 (næste | vis alle)
(30) Not sure exactly what to think of this mystery. A small California town on the coast reminiscent of Malibu was rocked by the death of an innocent little girl 30 years ago. Now the man responsible for her death is being let out of prison after serving his time. Some people have moved on; and some people including the little girl's sister Star Radley, and his best friend Chief of Police 'Walk,' have not and are racked with guilt and sorrow. Star's children Duchess and Robin feel the brunt of the sins of the prior generation. Drinking, OD's, domestic violence, financial instability - Duchess cares for her little brother almost on her own as a self-styled 'outlaw.' But then another tragedy - now who is responsible? It still isn't quite clear to me even after reading the whole novel.

I feel like the author tried to be too poetic and maybe a bit gimmicky with the choppy sentences and cryptic musings. I often didn't know who the hell he was talking about and chunks of narrative were left out in a contrived and inartful way that just made things confusing; not mysterious. There was also just too much going on - what really was the central conflict of the novel? I felt the children's story was the most well-done and yet - we had much else going on with Richarde Darke, the real estate scheme, Vincent's guilt or lack thereof, the death of the little girl from long ago - is this even relevant; and then finally - just when we already have too many characters we have the old girlfriend lawyer, the butcher, and the candlestick maker. I'm only half kidding.

Harsh review so far for a novel that is actually decent. I absolutely loved Thomas Noble and Duchess' interactions. "Is it because I'm black?" No, its because you are a cowardly weakling." And a few things with Robin and Montana got to me a bit. Ironically it was the sleuthing and the mystery part of the novel that fell flat for me; just totally not believable and poorly told. I much more liked the characters that had an arc.

In the end, I would say this is a worthy mystery - it tries to be a literary mystery which I truly respect but the literary part was a miss. I would potentially try this author again though because there is some potential there. ( )
  jhowell | Jun 1, 2021 |
It's not often that I find myself sitting back and really appreciating the beauty of the words in a novel. I tend to read mysteries and thrillers and true crime books which aren't generally known for gorgeous prose. I mean, it happens but it's not what I expect. But sitting back and appreciating the narrator perform We Begin at the End is exactly what I did.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Walker, the sheriff of a small California town, and Duchess Day Radley, the 13 year-old daughter of one of Walk's childhood friends. Duchess is a tough young person who has become primary caretaker of her 6 year-old brother, Robin, and, with Walk's help, keeps her mother, Star, together, too. Star is a mess and the whole town appears to be aware of it since they see the ambulances called out for accidental overdoses...

I loved everything about this book. The story, the characters, the setting, the twists and turns, and the narrator. I was emotionally gut-punched a few times and nearly dropped a tear towards the end. I can see myself listening again. I'm sure there are bits here and there that would have new meaning now that I have all the information. I love that. There's so much to this book and all is not what it appears.

I'd recommend We Begin at the End to everyone. I don't recall anything particularly graphic or violent or sexual so it would be appropriate for teens and up. Of course, my memory is shit so I could be wrong...

Huge thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for hooking me up with the audiobook. I loved it. ( )
  amcheri | May 25, 2021 |
We Begin at the End was an exceptional novel which looked at a variety of issues such as family loyalty and love, actions vs. consequences, friendship, secrets, responsibility and redemption, and serious illness. One thing different about this novel is that it is wrapped in a murder mystery.

There are two protagonists: Walk, the local police chief and Duchess, an amazing 13 year old. Both have flaws and make some terrible choices for the right reasons. I absolutely loved the Outlaw Duchess May Radley! ( )
  Nancyjcbs | May 6, 2021 |
We Begin at the End is an extraordinary novel and one that's difficult to talk about without giving plot points away. Just when I thought I had things figured out, author Chris Whitaker would throw in another twist, another surprise, and have me racing to reconfigure everything in my mind. The opening scene grabbed me by the throat, and I hadn't read many more pages before I knew that I was reading something very special. The further I read, the more I knew I was right.

We Begin at the End is a story about loyalty, a story about secrets, a story about redemption, and the one thing that powers this book into one of the best books I've ever read is its characters. These characters are going to live with me for a long time. Chief Walker, who seems to feel responsible for everyone and does his level best to protect them all. Dolly and Hal in Montana for their love and patience in dealing with difficult personalities. Martha May the lawyer who prefers defending battered women. Young Thomas Noble who sees Duchess Day Radley for the treasure she is and sticks to her like glue.

And-- towering above them all-- Duchess Day Radley, herself. Readers will be hard-pressed to find another thirteen-year-old who can so easily make them wince, make them laugh, make them hold their breath, and make them cry. If you tell Duchess that, when life hands her lemons, she's supposed to make lemonade, you'd better duck because those lemons are going to be flying straight at your head. This young girl is so filled with rage and hurt and love that you want to wrap her in a bear hug and never ever let another thing hurt her. What does she want? It's simple. Just listen to what she tells her mother: "I just wish there was a middle, you know. Because that's where people live. It doesn't have to be all or nothing... sink or swim like that. Most people just tread water, and that's enough. Because when you're sinking, you're pulling us down with you."

If you want to know if Duchess Day Radley and her brother Robin ever get to experience life in the middle, pick up a copy of We Begin at the End. It's a phenomenal book. ( )
  cathyskye | May 3, 2021 |
“He’d come so far, he would get to the finish, even if it cost him his soul.”

Poor Walk. And poor everyone in this book, especially Duchess Day Radley, Outlaw, “A girl on her way to right a lifetime of wrongs.”

Part Four of this story is titled “Heartbreaker” and let me tell you, that could be the title for this whole book. Heck, at the end of chapter 48, tears were rolling down my cheeks. Very well written, but it tore the heart right outta me. After reading this, I'm spent. ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Apr 30, 2021 |
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