ARC Review: The Existence of Bea Pearl by Candice Marley Conner

“no, she faded away; it took all summer for her to disappear. she stopped talking because no one would talk to her. she faded ’til she didn’t exist anymore.”

candice marley conner

Series: Standalone

Release Date: June 15th 2021

Publisher: Owl Hollow Press

Genre: Young Adult Fiction | Contemporary | Mystery | Thriller | Romance

Page Count: 237

Source: I received an advance reader’s copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!

Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Bea Pearl knows her brother isn’t dead. Even if her parents don’t agree. Even if the entire town doesn’t believe her. She knows it’s true. When orders came to evacuate Lake George due to rising floodwaters, Bea Pearl saw Jim head toward the river. She followed him. Only she returned.

When her parents have Jim declared legally dead, Bea Pearl decides it’s up to her to figure out where her brother could be if he is alive, and so begins to unravel the mystery of his disappearance. But it seems like someone else wants to know what he was hiding when his bedroom is ransacked. More clues come together: a scrap of paper, mysterious numbers that may lead to swamp monkeys, Jim’s shoes turning up in unexpected places. Bea Pearl can’t figure out what connects them all until she’s stolen from her bed in the dead of night.

Bea Pearl’s insistence that Jim’s alive and her quest to figure out why he went down to a flooding river in the first place takes a toll on her shattering family. But she must unearth the truth surrounding her presumed dead brother. Otherwise, the rumors are true and she has killed him. Because if Jim can stop existing, could she too?

Rating:

Thoughts:

If you’re looking for a bit of mystery and thriller in one of your reads this summer, this book is it. With a backdrop of a small town set on a swampy river in lower Alabama, this book had the perfect uneasy atmosphere to fit its tone. The writing was so immersive and I really enjoyed the simpler, shorter chapters which made it a really quick read for me. And although the writing is on the simpler side, it has a great undertone of more meaningful questions that really hit deep inside you while reading.

The main character, Bea Pearl, made for a really intriguing narrator throughout the story. At times I had full confidence in her version of events and then there were times when I was uncertain if she was a reliable narrator since she even questioned herself. The story had a really interesting spin of most of the side characters essentially gaslighting Bea Pearl which added a really eerie touch along with the uncertainty of what was going on. My entire time reading, I was paranoid about who I could trust and which characters were telling the truth. I also liked how the book portrayed different versions of grief through Bea Pearl’s parents and friends and the way it contrasted with Bea Pearl’s refusal to believe her brother was dead. There’s a lot of tension in the book which added another layer to the uncomfortable atmosphere of the story.

Although I felt the ending was rushed, I did enjoy its conclusion. There were some questions I was left with and I felt like some loose ends weren’t tied up adequately but it didn’t really dim my enjoyment of the book. I did think Bea Pearl read a little young for 16 years old which kind of feeds into the Southern stereotype of being naive but I did enjoy the unusual romance that crept up during the book.

Overall, I think the atmosphere really adds a special touch to this book. I was supremely entertained while reading and enjoyed its quick pacing. I also think the cover art fits so perfectly with the vibe of the book and I’m really happy I picked this book up.

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3 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Existence of Bea Pearl by Candice Marley Conner

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