I read THE END OF EVERYTHING months ago, and immediately began talking about it to anyone who would listen. I was lucky enough to meet Megan Abbott at Bouchercon in St. Louis, and I’m happy to report that she is as a wonderful a person as her books would have you hope her to be. As I spoke with more people about THE END OF EVERYTHING, one thing was clear: this book has a tremendous impact on each reader. I haven’t found anyone who didn’t like it—although I expect there are some folks out there (read on for explanation).
I read THE END OF EVERYTHING simply because it was written by Abbott. Given her previous novels, that was more than enough recommendation for me. And because her previous novels were set in earlier eras, I knew this would not be a standard crime fiction tale. And it’s not.
The timeframe in which events in THE END OF EVERYTHING occur isn’t immediately clear. There are clues, though, if you watch closely and are old enough to have endured The Era of Leg Warmers and Shoulder Pads, which place it in the early to mid 1980s. The story is told with unflinching clarity and shocking honesty through the eyes of 13 year-old Lizzie Hood in the time leading to and through the disappearance from an idyllic American suburb of her best friend Evie.
One of the many aspects of this story that make it remarkable is how Lizzie and Evie’s friendship is explored. In this world of texting and everyone being everyone else’s BFFs, I can only hope that kids still have best friends like that, like I did, relationships as deep and impactful as any I’ve had before or since.
I expect that readers inclined to Puritanism could be put off by THE END OF EVERYTHING because it is both honest and graphic. Parents of teen girls will likely find it decidedly uncomfortable as Lizzie tells us all about the violence and sensuality that she sees in her idyllic suburban world. Frankly, I had forgotten just how adult I considered myself at the tender age of 13. It’s no accident that Judy Blume loved this book.
The crime at the heart of THE END OF EVERYTHING is not straightforward—for much of the book, Evie’s disappearance is truly a mystery. Because Abbott never strays from Lizzie’s narration, we don’t have many of the elements we would normally expect; there’s no third-party description of anything nor any procedure to which we’re accustomed, all of which contributes to making reading THE END OF EVERYTHING wonderfully uncomfortable.
It took me a good few pages to get used to the cadence of Lizzie’s narration because I found myself bound by these expectations, but once I relaxed into reading, the story moved as quickly as any I’ve read recently.
THE END OF EVERYTHING is an extraordinary book, a tale that is unique in every sense of the word, and one that will stay with you. If you have not yet read it, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Author’s Website: www.meganabbott.com/
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