Review: Beatless by Amber L. Johnson


beatless cover


Beatless is a coming of age story filled with young adult insecurity, drama, friendship, love, and lessons—not necessarily in that order.


From the blurb:


Mallory Durham has been left behind and it is making her feel less like an adult and more like an afterthought.

Divorce, sickness, educational aspirations being shattered, and her Aunt Sam moving into her home, have made Mal’s life nearly unrecognizable to her.

When Tucker Scott re-enters her life along with his band, will they offer what she needs to once again find her voice and self confidence or will it strip her of it even more?

Told through the dual voices of Mallory as she navigates her new world, and Aunt Sam’s letters to her niece, Beatless tells the story of two women at very different points in their life, fighting the same battles; proving that no matter what age a person is, there are always lessons to be learned.



Mal’s dreams of going away to college have been temporarily shot down by her family situation. Aunt Sam provides an adult presence while Mal’s mother is on assignment in another state. Despite the fact Mal’s equilibrium was thrown off by her two best friends leaving town for college, Aunt Sam—though sympathetic to Mal’s plight—encourages her to wipe off her duff and get back out there. To live. Mal resists at first, but Sam is persistent and determined.


Enter Tucker Scott, the boy with two first names who once made Mal a bracelet with plastic hearts, one that still has a place on her bulletin board. I adored Tucker. At first Mal wasn’t sure what to make of him, but there was so much beneath the surface to uncover.


When Mal experiences Tucker’s band, she’s entranced. The group quickly accepts her into their ranks, giving her a taste of what real friendship is like. Mal’s previous friends, who couldn’t spare her a moment once they left for college, were never real friends at all. I think everyone has experienced the type of friend that shares their life story with you in excruciating detail but doesn’t really care what’s going on in your life. Mal finally learns what good friends are and comes into her own. She still manages to get caught up in old hangups and pays a steep price for it.


The connection between Tucker and Mal sizzled. The love scenes were hot, hot, hot without being explicit or raunchy. They made such a perfect pair.


As with Where We Fell, I loved Amber Johnson’s writing style. Beatless was well written and well edited. The story moves along, leaving the unnecessary stuff behind while transitioning nicely from scene to scene. The characters were interesting and flawed and real. I do wish there was a bit more detail about Mal’s mother, even a conversation or two over the phone; for most of the book, she was a ghost.


The moment things went askew with Mal and Tucker hurt. I hurt for them both. I didn’t quite buy the way the aftermath went down. I bought the reaction on one side but not the other. That’s all I can say without posting a spoiler. That said, it didn’t wreck this beautiful story for me. And the letters from Aunt Sam interspersed through the book between chapters? They made the bittersweet, inspiring journey all the better.


Add this one to your TBR list for sure! I’m looking forward to what Amber Johnson has up her sleeve next. I knocked points off for believability at certain parts, which is why this one is not a 5 star for me.


4.25 stars





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