An Extraordinary Tale
Chris Whitaker’s, We Begin At The End is a dark tale with a glimmer of hope and maybe, just maybe a splash of faith. This is a contemporary novel with adult themes even though one of the protagonists is a teenager with the name of Duchess. The other main character is a small-town cop. Walker is struggling to hide his affliction. He has Parkinson’s.
Violence and murder thread throughout the novel. But it is not a mystery. Possibly We Begin At The End falls into the crime genre. The story revolves around family, loyalty, small-towns and love. However, the love is hard to come by and fate often intervenes.
The Young Heroine- The Outlaw
Duchess Day Radley is one of the two voices in the story. And I cannot say enough about how moving her character is. A tough champion of her drunkard mother and her baby brother, her vulgarity hides her vulnerability. Her quick temper and violent outbursts mask a child forced to grow up too soon.
Seldom will one encounter such a compelling character. This is not a coming-of-age story. Duchess has lost all semblance of childhood long before the tale begins. As the reader turns each page expecting redemption, Duchess dashes the hope. Seemingly a lost cause.
The Middle-Aged Cop
Whitaker offers Walk as a counterpoint to Duchess. A small-town cop wanting to hold progress at bay. He can’t erase the fateful day of long ago, no matter how much he wants to. Yet, he clings to innocence and good. Unfortunately, fate is against him. Walk fights two battles in We Begin At The End. Neither seems winnable.
Vincent King-The Wildcard
Of all the characters in the book, Vincent King is the most intriguing. He says little wanting to suffer in silence. He too, lost his innocence as a teenager. Sent to an adult prison for involuntary manslaughter. His role in the novel is large. And full of surprises. But above all he is selfless.
We Begin At The End Theme
Sacrifice and all that it entails runs through the pages of We Begin At The End. Characters are motivated by their love for others. Often the love is misguided. But love, especially of family is entrenched. And so is love of a childhood friend.
Chris Whitaker has written a profound novel. We Begin At The End was published first in the U.K. in 2020 and released in the U.S.A. in 2021. This is the best book I have read in 2022. It is no surprise Disney has bought the movie rights to this outstanding story. Find a copy soon.