The Tragedy of Beauty

Young Adult - Coming of Age
309 Pages
Reviewed on 08/01/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Justine Reyes for Readers' Favorite

“Sometimes you have to do crazy things to truly experience life.” The mantra of young adults who don’t yet know the fragility of life. As the story opens on a summer's day, we find ourselves in Snowdyn, North Dakota, riding along in an old yellow pickup truck where one of the main characters, seventeen-year-old Dylan Erickson, is loading a rifle. He and his buddies, Dutch and Strong Bear, are about to go deer hunting. Kildare captures readers’ hearts in The Tragedy of Beauty as he unfolds for us a story of the untamable wildness of youth. Early in the story, Dylan is prompted by another character named Nevada to stop his friend from making a grave mistake, but youthful indiscretion overpowers him and he eventually finds himself stumbling through life until he can make things right again.

A lot of young adult novels focus on fantasy and romance these days and although there is nothing wrong with any of them, it is refreshing to find a gem such as this. It is reminiscent of short stories like The Body and novels like The Outsiders and The Catcher in the Rye. A simple story about friendship and growing up. It tells us to appreciate life and embrace what we have because in the blink of an eye it could all be taken from us, sometimes because of our own careless volition. Kildare’s novel speaks nothing short of the truth. I cannot wait for others to be able to read this because it is something that should, at the very least, be read once in your lifetime.

Ruffina Oserio

The Tragedy of Beauty by Kildare is a spellbinding coming of age tale, a story set against the backdrop of a dying town. While Snowden may not have the kind of economy and attractions of a thriving town, young Dylan Erickson, just like his teenage friends, transforms it into a haven with hilarious rides and a lot of fun stuff to do. But this town is about to be transformed, thanks to the boom in the oil market. Many businesses move into town and just suddenly it becomes a very busy hub, but also a place of crime and drugs. An accident caused by Dylan’s recklessness will affect the life of the community in a powerful way and set Dylan on a path to redemption. It is in the context of his struggle to reconcile with himself and events surrounding the fatal accident that he will understand what beauty has to do with tragedy, or will he?

Kildare is a great story teller and readers will enjoy the way the author builds worlds within the story. The characters are compelling and readers will enjoy the young protagonist and his group of friends and the rural aspects of the setting. The images of the locales in which the story unfolds are captured with unusual vividness. While this story can be hilarious at times, it also develops around the idea of change, and is character-focused. What happens when a once neglected place suddenly becomes a hot spot? The Tragedy of Beauty features a riveting plot, has compelling characters, and great prose. I enjoyed the emotional and psychological aspects of the story.

Rabia Tanveer

The Tragedy of Beauty by Kildare is the story of a 17-year-old boy named Dylan Erickson who lives in Snowden, North Dakota. This is an idyllic little place that can be his own personal heaven or hell, depending upon his emotions. Dylan is unique with his mixed ethnicity and his urge to find something better. He is neither happy nor sad, which leads to a series of events that has the power to turn his world upside down.

Dylan’s one mistake leads to terrible consequences that make Dylan look at his life and see where and when did he go wrong. His self-destructive behavior not only caused him trouble, but made life difficult for everyone else in his close knit community. When his mistake causes a fatal accident, he stops and reflects on his life and tries to find ways to repent for his misdemeanors. Can Dylan forgive himself? Can he find any way to fight his past and look forward to a better future?

The Tragedy of Beauty by Kildare is one of the deepest and most beautifully meaningful novels I have read so far this year and trust me, I have read plenty. This is an incredibly deep and intense story that had me thinking about myself and trying to understand what happened to me and why it did. I don’t know if this was the author’s intention or not, but somehow I could find little bits of myself in Dylan. His character development took time, but this is what was required by the story and actually made him more real. I truly enjoyed how the author gave the story time to build, pick up its tempo and simply come alive. This is a wonderful novel that I would definitely read again. Really amazing.

Romuald Dzemo

The Tragedy of Beauty by Kildare is a compelling story of change, of coming of age, and a young boy’s quest to understand tragedy. The setting is Snowden, a desolate town in North Dakota. The surrounding areas are gradually falling into ruin. A place where few people would like to live because it offers little to no opportunity ... until the oil boom happens and thousands of workers start flooding the area. Dylan Erickson, like many others, has to cope with the changes that come with the oil boom. When young Dylan causes an accident that sends waves reverberating across the tightly-knit community, he sets out on a journey of atonement, one that unveils the sense of tragedy in a completely new light.

This is a beautiful story beautifully told with a setting that comes out clearly through the narrative, with images of places, the sounds, and the feel of a small community. Kildare’s handling of character is exceptional and the author crafts 3-dimensional characters. The author pays great attention to the different layers of character development — the emotional, physical, and the psychological. It is interesting how tragedy transforms Dylan Erickson from a carefree young man to someone who wants to understand the events of his life, and who seeks to give purpose to what he does moving forward. There is a neat difference between life before the tragedy and life after. The plot is well-written and the pacing measured. The writing in The Tragedy of Beauty is also beautiful and it makes for a delightful read. I enjoyed every bit of this story and the humanity of the characters.

Lesley Jones

In the beautiful reservation town of Snowden, North Dakota, a group of teenage friends enjoy growing up in their idyllic surroundings, where all they have to worry about is their next daring prank. Dylan Erickson, a half-Chippewa, and his friends try to outdo each other with their deadly games until tragedy strikes one fateful day and Dylan is left to pick up the pieces of his life. Dylan’s life is consumed with pain and guilt as he struggles with his internal demons. Nothing can stop the downward spiral, not even his true love, Jesse. His friend, Nevada, is a helpless onlooker as Dylan shuns everyone around him until he gets a chance to redeem his self-respect and finally free himself from the shackles of his nightmares. Dylan soon becomes a hero, but he has a heavy price to pay first.

In The Tragedy of Beauty by Kildare, the author has created not just a beautiful story of friendship and family relationships, but a story line that touches every emotion. I became immersed in the story from the first chapter and the credit for this must be given to the author for his outstanding use of the English language to set a scene and build credible and likable characters. The dialogue was superb between the friends, especially the cheekiness of Dutch and the calming diplomatic nature of Nevada. Dylan was an excellent protagonist and, as a reader, you felt his pain and wanted him to resolve his internal struggle. The relationship he had with Jesse was beautifully written, as was the section of the story where Dylan and his dad resolved their differences. There were so many twists and turns throughout this novel and the ending was explosive and totally unexpected. There were actual tears in my eyes at the end. Highly recommended.