Welcome to the second to last installment of our Black History Month series! This month has absolutely flown by and we are sad to see it winding down. However, we’re only sad to see it wind down in number of posts because we’ve got two AMAZING authors lined up for today and next Wednesday, so let’s get started with today’s post!
Happy First Reads Friday!  Today we feature debut author Ashley Woodfolk whose The Beauty That Remains publishes in less than two weeks! The reason I’m SO excited for this book is that Ashely incorporates one of my favorite things — music.  Her story of grief is told from 3 points of view and it seems music plays the roll that will tie the characters together and help them through their grief.  I’m expecting this to be heartbreaking in it’s grief, and, hopefully, offer some hope for our teens. Let’s find out more about The Beauty that Remains, Ashley and books that inspired her to write this story.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 6th 2018
Delacorte Press

The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ashley Woodfolk.png

Hi! I’m Ashley.

I graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in English, and since I’ve been obsessed with books for as long as I can remember, I wiggled my way into the publishing industry.  Currently, I’m a member of the CBC Diversity Committee and my day job is marketing books for children and teens.

In my “spare” time, I fangirl over my favorite authors and try my hardest to write contemporary YA that’ll make you cry.

Indie movies, beer, books, and burgers are a few of my favorite things, and I live in Brooklyn with my cute husband and my cuter pit bull puppy, Winnie.

My debut young adult novel, THE BEAUTY THAT REMAINS, from Random House Children’s books will be on sale March 6, 2018.

ASHLEY’S RECOMMENDATIONS

 The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon: I’m obsessed with Nicola’s writing. I’d say, out of all of these books, hers have influenced me and my writing the most. With Everything, Everything, and especially with The Sun is Also A Star, she’s written the kinds of books I’ve always wanted to read AND write: books that show black girls as complicated, beautiful, honest, and flawed. Books that show black girls just being…girls. We make mistakes. We love and deserve to be loved back. We have families that are unique and friends that are funny and lives that are full of stories worth telling. She will always be my hero in the same way that Alice Walker is: She did what hadn’t been done–telling stories about girls who look and feel like me–and did it so well it couldn’t be overlooked; so well that the whole world had to pay attention.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: Ari (the main character and narrator of this novel) has such a rich internal life. He thinks about everything. He’s at once inside and outside of himself at all times, and this was the first novel I’d ever read that I felt accurately portrayed how overwhelming that internal monologue can be at times. I think what was so brilliant about this novel was how self-reflective Ari was, while he simultaneously is in complete denial about being in love with his best friend Dante. His moment of realization rang strong and true, and I don’t think male characters are often afforded the kind of emotional depth that Saenz allowed Ari to have. This was definitely influential in my own writing when it came to the male characters I authored. I wanted to make sure they had that rich emotional life–that they thought about the impact of their actions and were influenced by everything and everyone around him.
The Sky Is Everywhereand I’ll Give You The Sun, both by Jandy Nelson: I’m a sucker for pretty prose. And Jandy Nelson is a master when it comes to gorgeously written contemporary YA. She’s also excellent at character-driven stories, and she knows exactly how to hook a girl like me (one who is obsessed with people over plot) from the very first paragraphs of her novels. I read her first book, The Sky Is Everywhere, when I was drafting my very first novel, and the way she handled grief really struck me. I loved how Lennie’s relationship with her sister continued even after her death, and I was entranced by the way she described what it was like to lose someone. There’s a quote that has always stuck with me from that book that I think encapsulates what I’m trying to say perfectly: “grief is a house/ where the chairs/ have forgotten how to hold us/ the mirrors how to reflect us/the walls how to contain us.”
Pretty much the same deal with I’ll Give You the Sun: otherworldy writing, jump-off-the-page characters, and brave explorations of love and grief–which influenced my writing immensely because I explore a lot of the same themes in my book (with, I hope, at least a fraction of the beauty).
 
The final installment of this series will post next Wednesday, but please take time to view posts from Brandy Colbert, Ibi Zoboi, Jay Coles, Tiffany D. Jackson and many more!!
~Carmen
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