A heartbreaking yet hopeful book about the long-term, reverberating effects of past decisions on the lives of two innocent children, and the cop who tries to save them.
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Walk has never left the small California town where he grew up and is now chief of police. He worries endlessly about his childhood friends, Vincent (just out of prison for a murder Walk’s testimony convicted him of as a teen) and Star, sinking into self-destruction.
As Star implodes, Walk’s concerns turn to her neglected children, Duchess and Robin. Duchess, 13 and a self-declared outlaw, lashes out fiercely, ready to defend her brother with all she has. As the troubles of the past meet the present and come to a head, Walk and Duchess are powerless to stop the damage.
This audiobook started off slow for me–I wasn’t following the characters and past/present storylines very well–but halfway through, I was suddenly riveted. There’s hope and resilience here, but it broke my heart in a million different ways. Don’t miss this one.
Duchess Day Radley is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed “outlaw.” Rules are for other people, the cowards. At school, she is the distant one, the child the other kids make fun of—her clothes are torn, her hair never properly fixed. But let them throw their sticks, because she’ll throw stones. Duchess might be a badass, but she’s really just trying to survive. She is the fierce protector of her five-year-old brother, Robin. She is the parent to her mother, Star, a single mom incapable of taking care of herself, let alone her two kids. Walk has never left the coastal California town where he and Star grew up. He’s the chief of police, trying to keep Cape Haven, with its beautiful bluffs overlooking the sea, not only safe, but safe from becoming a cookie-cutter tourist destination for the rich. 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. And he’s in overdrive protecting Duchess and Robin as Star slip slides deeper into self-destruction.
Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being released. As soon as he steps one foot back into his childhood town, trouble arrives. It shows up on Walk’s and Duchess’s doorsteps, and they will be unable to do anything but usher it in, arms wide closed. With resonances readers will feel in their bones, We Begin at the End looks at family—the ones we are born into and the ones we create. It shows how revenge and justice are often two very different things. It reveals how doing right can easily be wrong. Chris Whitaker’s characters—Duchess, Walk, and everyone they love and whose hearts they break, who deserve so much more than life serves them—will sear your own heart. This novel is a modern-day masterpiece.