Book review: Remember my Beauties by Lynn Hugo…

Remember my Beauties: Lynn Hugo
Imagine a hawk’s view of the magnificent bluegrass pastures of Kentucky horse country. Circle around the remnants of a breeding farm, four beautiful horses grazing just beyond the paddock. Inside the ramshackle house, a family is falling apart.
Hack, the patriarch breeder and trainer, is aged and blind, and his wife, Louetta, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the horses while dealing with her own home and job-not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses. But she holds it all together. Until her brother, Cal, shows up again. Jewel already has reason to hate Cal, and when he meets up with Carley, he throws the family into crisis-and gives Jewel reason to pick up a gun.
Every family has heartbreaks, failures, a black sheep or two. And some families end in tatters. But some stumble on the secret of survival: if the leader breaks down, others step up and step in. In this lyrical novel, when the inept, the addict, and the ex-con join to weave the family story back together, either the barn will burn to the ground or something bigger than any of them will emerge, shining with hope. A novel about perception, Remember My Beauties grows large and wide as it reveals what may save us.
I have been given an ARC copy by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
We meet Jewel at the start of the story, hacking off her long blonde hair with a pair of shears looking in the bathroom mirror. An act of defiance after two failed marriages in a desperate attempt to renew herself in both her own eyes and the eyes of other people. A row with her husband prompted this act. 
(A side note: I’m disgusted by the way that the author writes about bipolar disorder in the opening chapter; describing a character with the condition as a dangerous nut job. Not cool.)
Jewel hates her brother and has a vehement reaction when her mother tells her that he is coming home. You sense the damaged family dynamic right from the off with the clever way that the author builds the layers of the story. We learn Jewel has a very good reason to detest her brother. He drunkenly tried to rape her when she was 16 years old. Her mother sided with Cal and still does. Jewel also has to care for her drug addled daughter and her scumbag boyfriend. It is hardly s surprise that we see the beginning of a break down. Jewel’s emotions are so tightly wound, they have to give up and snap some time.
Jewel tells her parents that she will not care for them anymore if they allow Cal back into the house. But as time passes, she starts to admit to herself that more than likely, she will continue.
She enlists her daughter Carley who is a drug addict, to help out her mum and dad. Yet Jewel finds Carley and Cal having sex. She loses it and goes to shoot Cal, but Carley puts her hand in the way.
This motivates Jewel to care for Carley, and to get her into rehab. We begin to see the shattered family dynamic and how the relationships are so damaged that there is little chance of mending them.
Jewel’s husband and Cal are conspiring against Jewel’s wishes for financial gain. This takes Carley out of rehab to care for the horses. Things go well until Jewel finds out. That same day a death rocks the family to it’s core.
This part of the story shows us that it is possible to heal family rifts in the most difficult of circumstances.
The characters blend well together and the story is told from the outlook of several of the characters which makes a pleasant surprise. The only beef I had with this story as I mentioned at the start of this review is the way that the writer talks about mental health. That’s what prevented me awarding 4 stars. Many thanks to Netgalley for my ARC. An otherwise pleasant 3 out of 5 star read.

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