Penguin Books has pre-empted What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson, a YA debut about "beauty, brutality and broken people trying to survive", branded "a masterpiece of a thriller".
The Penguin Random House Children’s imprint will publish in April 2021 in hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audio, after editorial director Anthea Townsend acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Europe, from Cecilia de la Campa, vice-president of global licensing at Writers House, on behalf of agent Lindsay Auld, in a two-book deal.
It will be released by Macmillan in the US simultaneously and, according to the publisher, a "high-level film deal" is soon to be announced.
Anderson's "exhilarating and emotional" debut, set against the cold and harsh backdrop of winter in Idaho, "shines an unflinching light on the untold stories that make up the oft forgotten and unchronicled heart of America", says Penguin Books.
The synopsis reads: "Jack Morton has nothing left. Nothing except for his younger brother, Matty, who he'd die for. Now Jack faces a stark choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison. And so begins a race against time as Jack tries to track down the stash of money while evading the clutches of Bardem, the man who masterminded the drug deal gone wrong all those years ago and who has held a vendetta against Jack’s family ever since.
"But when Jack meets Ava, things become even more complicated. At first Jack thinks he’s found someone he can lean on for once, but then it turns out that Ava might be the one person guaranteed to bring Bardem to Jack’s door."
Townsend called it "an utterly gripping and suspenseful thriller" as well as "a powerful emotional story about family, resilience and how far you’ll go to protect those you love".
"It is so rare to find a story – and writing – that has this sort of impact," she said, "a novel that will break your heart, leave you breathless and desperate to press it into the hands of everyone you know. The novel is a masterpiece of a thriller and Cory is an exceptional new talent that I am so excited to launch as a major YA debut on the PRH list next year."
Anderson said: "I’m honoured that What Beauty There Is will be published by Penguin Random House UK as I’ve long admired their championing of stories that matter, through books that spark thought and imagination. The story of Ava is very important to me: in many ways, her story is my own. So I’m delighted that Ava, and myself, will be in such safe hands for our UK debut."