Thursday, July 21, 2011


“I don’t pretend to know the hearts of women.” Mr. Verver said that once. . . .


Told from the point of view of 13-year-old Lizzie Hood, Megan Abbott’s The End of EVERYTHING is what I would call a tour de force of point of view.  More than that, it tells a gut-wrenching story.

Someone kidnaps Lizzie’s next door neighbor and best friend, Evie.  Lizzie’s observations, along with the lies she concocts, lead to the person.  But the story doesn’t have a happy ending.

This is not the “end of summer” (or some other season).  This is The End of EVERYTHING.  Everyone’s life changes.  The three young women in the story—Lizzie, Evie, and Evie’s sister Dusty—learn things about themselves that they will live with forever.

This story is so honest about Lizzie’s feelings and actions that I sometimes found the story hard to read.

Back when I was reading “classics,” I used to think that most writers had to write at least one “coming-of-age” book.  Some coming-of-age books were a way to reconcile the volcanous emotions of the teen and preteen years.  To Kill a Mockingbird fits that description.  Other coming-of-age books were of a different sort—i.e. Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Now I’ve come to think that coming-of-age books are a sort of genre of their own.  They tell a special story.  The End of EVERYTHING adds significantly to the coming-of-age genre.

Only a talented and sensitive young woman could have written this book.  Some men have written mystery novels from the point of view of preteen or early teen young women, but none of those books I’ve read is as compelling as this book is.

So, in case you haven’t been able to tell by now, I loved this book.  I recommend it.
One added comment—Somehow or another over the last few years, I’ve come to read and enjoy Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinase listed in the blog list here. 

I’ve put off reading Megan Abbott for that reason.  I’m sometimes not objective when I know the author or someone connected with the author. 

Finally, I had heard so much about Megan Abbott and her talent that I decided to begin reading some of her books.  If I didn’t like them, I’d just let them drop in a black hole without comment.  If I liked Megan Abbott’s book, I’d write a brief comment.  (I don’t do heavily negative criticism well.  I know how hard many writers work to write a book.  Even though few people read this blog, I don’t write about a book unless I have a positive feeling about it.)  So I read this book, and I’m glad I did. 


Naomi Johnson said...

Bravo, Joe! Yes, the story is difficult at time because of its honesty. And, I think, all the better for it.

Joe Barone said...

It is a tough story because it is so honest.