Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Unbeautifully by Madeline Sheehan

I started Unbeautifully while on a train to the city. At the end of Chapter One, I felt compelled to ask the author if her intention was to give people heart attacks. She LOL’d me. That’s the author for you, and in all honesty, I wouldn’t want it any differently.

I finally finished the book on Monday morning, and was left reeling for the rest of the day. Thank god for Canadian long-weekends, because I was not composed enough to deal with the after-effects of this book at work.

And here’s a spoiler...

Even though I was very happy with how the story concluded, getting there did a number on my psyche. There were many moments of ‘you have got to be shitting me!’ followed by tears. I also screamed ‘agh’ a lot. At one point my 4-year old asked me if he needed to go and get daddy.

Even though Frankie was no longer alive, his ghost continued to torment the people who were directly affected by all of his craziness. Ripper (both figuratively and literally) lost a part himself at the hands of the psycho, and Danny was living in the chaos between Deuce and Eva as a result of Frankie’s brutality.

This was not an easy book to read. It was absolutely raw with emotion, and even though there were some easy-going moments, the roller coaster ride that the book took me on was exhausting. I felt such sadness for everyone as they were coming to terms with what happened and how to keep going. Even though it ended the way it ended, the constant recollections of what a real bastard Frankie was drained me.

I decided that a good way to get my mind back to a happy place would be to watch an honest-to-goodness chick-flick. I was content watching my go-to movie when all of a sudden a song starts to play and WHAM! I’m back to being emotionally unstable. It took me a moment to realize that it was the song that was causing this madness.

If you’ve ever listened to Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars and have coincidentally read this book, I hope you understand me when I say that song is Ripper and Danny. Hell, it could even be Eva and Deuce. The sheer agony that translated through the eerie harmonies and the desolation of the lyrics are so beautiful that I actually pictured this as the anthem to the entire book series.

True to the author’s word, this was not just the story of Ripper and Danny. +Madeline Sheehan weaved the main characters from Undeniable into this story with such utter perfection, while still giving Ripper and Danny their own moment under the sun. I’m not sure that those two would have gotten together had all that was Undeniable not happened. There are several silver linings to the horror that everyone endured, and I think Ripper and Danny together is one of them.

This book (or Undeniable for that matter) is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not cute little fuzzy kittens and it sure as shit isn’t sugar and spice and everything nice. It’s gut-wrenchingly honest, and all-consuming. There isn’t anything ‘un’ about how beautiful this story is.

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