Title: The End of Everything
Author: Megan Abbott
Release Date: July 7, 2011
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Lizzie Hood is a regular thirteen year old girl who is the closest of friends with Evie Verver. The two girls are inseparable; that is, until Evie goes missing. Was Evie taken? Did she go along with her kidnapper willingly, or did she run away? As Lizzie asks herself these questions, she finds herself in the center of the kidnapping investigation. Enjoying her newfound power, she uses it to dig into Evie’s disappearance and to do her best to find her friend.
The End of Everything is many things – the story of a small community, and a study of how that group of people is impacted by a young girl’s disappearance. It’s also a story of distrust. Before she disappears, Evie hints to Lizzie that there are things going on in her life that Lizzie doesn’t know about. She references a man that has been watching her. Lizzie doesn’t understand how Evie could have kept secrets from her. This issue of distrust is taken a step further; members of the community begin to doubt one another and turn on their own as more and more is revealed regarding Evie’s disappearance. It’s definitely an interesting novel on many levels and while it has a lot going on in terms of themes, it is never cluttered.
There is also one more thing that The End of Everything is: incredibly and completely disturbing. Lizzie is thirteen years old, beginning her long march into adolescence, and is becoming more aware of the world around her. She begins to notice boys and men alike, and one man in particular she finds herself attracted to is none other than Evie’s father. While many might write this off as a harmless crush, it’s written in an incredibly disturbing way. Indeed, one of the themes running through the novel is the relationships between older men and teens – from father/daughter to something else entirely. The sensuality that Abbott uses to characterize these relationships is, quite frankly, frightening and difficult to read.
That’s not to say that The End of Everything is a bad novel or not worth reading. Quite the contrary, I was rather impressed with how uncomfortable Abbott made me while reading the book. Her writing style has an edgy quality, and it seems as though she writes to provoke debate. As a result, this novel would make an excellent book club pick. It’s a book you’ll want to discuss after reading it, if only to get the more difficult aspects out of your head.
I’m not sure what to tell mothers of young daughters about this book. On one hand, Abbott gets into the mind of a young teen so incredibly well that I highly recommend it. On the other hand, though, I want to tell them to run away screaming. This is the type of novel that will make you want to imprison your daughter in the house forever and never allow them any kind of freedom. It’s so different and strange, yet it was incredibly well done. If you’re in the mood for something on the darker side, The End of Everything is a good choice.