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The End of Everything by Megan E. Abbott

For thirteen-year-old Lizzie, it’s a nightmare come true when her best friend Evie disappears a couple of weeks before the end of the school year.  As next door neighbors, the two girls have been intensely close since early childhood, and Evie’s absence leaves a huge hole in the existence of Lizzie and Evie’s family.  A local man in the neighborhood, an insurance salesman, is suspected as Evie’s kidnapper, as he also disappears at the same time, and his family has no knowledge of his whereabouts.

The author tells the story from Lizzie’s perspective – a dreamscape of early adolescence complete with a childlike view of the threatening milieu she’s thrust into (questioning police, vicious gossip from fellow schoolkids) along with an awakening sexuality and awareness of the adult world. What is particularly striking (and unnerving) is Lizzie’s very real hero-worship of Evie’s dad, an outgoing affable man who manages to maintain a level of cheer through all the family sorrow.

The dreamlike stream of consciousness tone of The End of Everything reminded me of a cross between Donna Tartt’s A Little Friend and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides, other books about family tragedies and how they alter the people involved.  The plot for this one takes a while to get going; the chief attraction of the book is the psychological study of adolescents’ minds, the hinge points between the innocence of childhood and the entanglements of adulthood. 

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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