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There are two kinds of families: the ones we are born into and the ones we create.
Walk has never left the coastal California town where he grew up. He may have become the chief of police, 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. Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being released.
Duchess is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. Her mother, Star, grew up with Walk and Vincent. Walk is in overdrive trying to protect them, but Vincent and Star seem bent on sliding deeper into self-destruction. Star always burned bright, but recently that light has dimmed, leaving Duchess to parent not only her mother but her five-year-old brother. At school the other kids make fun of Duchess—her clothes are torn, her hair a mess. But let them throw their sticks, because she’ll throw stones. Rules are for other people. She’s just trying to survive and keep her family together.
A fortysomething-year-old sheriff and a thirteen-year-old girl may not seem to have a lot in common. But they both have come to expect that people will disappoint you, loved ones will leave you, and if you open your heart it will be broken. So when trouble arrives with Vincent King, Walk and Duchess find they will be unable to do anything but usher it in, arms wide closed.
Chris Whitaker has written an extraordinary novel about people who deserve so much more than life serves them. At times devastating, with flashes of humor and hope throughout, it is ultimately an inspiring tale of how the human spirit prevails and how, in the end, love—in all its different guises—wins.
Praise for We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
“Two damaged children—one timid and sweet, the other foul-mouthed and furious—will break readers’ hearts in this well-plotted and perfectly-paced novel. If, like me, you love stories that kidnap your intended schedule because you can’t not keep turning the pages, then I wholeheartedly recommend Chris Whitaker’s We Begin at the End.”
—Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author of I Know This Much Is True
“I LOVED this book. From the riveting plot to the beautiful writing. But mostly what kept me longing to get back to it each day were the characters, especially young Duchess. Fierce, brave, vulnerable, she leaps off the page fully formed. As does Walk. How aptly named. A chief of police on his own inexorable journey. This is a book to be read and reread and an author to be celebrated.”
—Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“It's an instant classic….Let’s begin at the end. After you’ve turned the final page of Chris Whitaker’s magnificent new novel, you’ll struggle—I struggled, certainly—to describe the experience…it recalls the very best of Tana French and Dennis Lehane. Think of Duchess Day Radley as a twenty-first-century Scout Finch, tough and curious and good. In fact, think of We Begin at the End as a novel at the same time distinctly American and profoundly universal.”
—A.J. Finn, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Woman in the Window
“A beautifully written mystery, packed with unforgettable characters. An intricately woven portrait of small-town intrigue where old and new sins collide.”
—Jane Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Dry
“Rich with character and story, conflict and tension, humor, tragedy, and raw, unadulterated guts, this one has it all. Throw in the most compelling young protagonist I’ve read in at least a decade, and you have a deep and meaningful story that is an absolute delight from first page to last.”
—John Hart, author of six New York Times bestsellers
“We Begin at the End is a searing portrait of guilt and grief, strikingly written and full of characters you can’t help but love.”
—Charlotte McConaghy, author of Migrations
“Beautifully written, We Begin at the End really reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird. And the spirit of Scout is very much alive in Duchess.”
—Sarah Pinborough, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes
“…Couldn’t put it down. Incredible writing, characters so brilliantly drawn they jump off the page. Outstanding.”
—B. A. Paris, bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors
“Ravishing, pulse-raising suspense…”
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“This is an epic drama and a profound masterpiece. I’ll be amazed if I read a better novel this year.”
—Daily Mirror (UK)
“Heartbreaking and profound, this is my thriller of the year.”
—The Mirror (UK)
“[An] impressive, often lyrical thriller. Whitaker crafts an absorbing plot around crimes in the present and secrets long buried, springing surprises to the very end. A fierce 13-year-old girl propels this dark, moving thriller.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A superb thriller…. Powered by extraordinarily deep character development and an impressively intricate plot, this novel is simultaneously a murder mystery, a love story, and a heartbreaking tragedy. The existential agony is palpable throughout, but so, too, is the hope at the end. Whitaker has upped his game with this emotionally charged page-turner.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)