by Annie Ward
Publication Date : March 5, 2019
Pages : 368
Synopsis From Publisher :
Maddie and Ian's romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.
From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.
I know this is very weird ( and a bit morbid ), but nothing grabs my attention faster than a 911 recording. Whether in a documentary, Podcast or book ; I am immediately hooked. The panic of the caller, the operator struggling to remain calm but urgently needing info from the caller in order to help; there are few better ways to start a story and capture the attention of an audience. For this reason I was enthralled with Beautiful Bad by page three. Intense and filled with anxiety, Beautiful Bad will stick with readers long after they have finished reading.
While visiting her best friend Jo in Macedonia, Maddie meets Ian. At the time Maddie is a teacher and Ian, a Soldier in the British Army working for the British Ambassador. There is an immediate attraction but also a few obstacles. A few years past before Maddie and Ian become an official couple and later marry. They settle in Kansas, Maddie’s home state, where she gives birth to a son, Charlie. Events which occurred while Maddie and Ian were apart have had a huge impact on Ian. He is not the same person she met years ago in Macedonia. Maddie notices the changes, but is convinced she can help him get back to the man she once knew. When she finally realizes just how damaged Ian has become, it is far too late to walk away.
Much of Beautiful Bad deals with the long terms effects of trauma. Both Maddie and Ian suffered near death experiences before they got married. These close calls have left them both extremely damaged. Dividing they're lives into before and after; leaving them both altered forever. I felt an extreme amount of sympathy for them both, more so with Ian. Ward portrays PTSD as a constant and daily struggle in which the person just wants to be who they were before the trauma. While I am aware of PTSD, the way Ward portrays the disorder is especially tragic. In Beautiful Bad we meet two people who have experienced a severe loss, a loss of their former selves. Being alive but not living and enjoying life ; I can think of nothing more frustrating and heart breaking. Readers will want to reach through the book to comfort Maddie and Ian.
Maddie’s and Ian’s relationship spans sixteen years and several countries. From Macedonia, Iraq, New York City, Balkans, and Kansas; readers experience the highs and lows of the world through Maddie’s eyes. In Macedonia in 2001 tensions were high between Muslims and Christians, the world wide effects of the 9/11 attacks, followed by the war on terror in Iraq. Remembering this turbulent time through Maddie was very engrossing: in some ways this time mirrors the world’s current state.
Beautiful Bad is told mostly through Maddie’s perspective. Switching between 2001-2010 and the twelve weeks before the 911 call. Maddie’s journal entries are featured as well. Although the story skips around frequently, I was able to follow easily. Each change in timeline provided clues to Maddie and Ian stories. Readers looking for an engaging, disquieting, suspenseful, yet heart-breaking read should add Beautiful Bad to their list of must reads.
**Thanks to Park Row for my free review copy of Beautiful Bad**
Murder and Moore Rating:
4 .5 out of 5 Stars