BOOK GROUPIE: A new perspective of a parent's worst nightmare in 'End of Everything'
I avoid child abduction books like I-25 after an Air Force football game. While the interstate’s clogged with traffic, abduction stories are bogged by emotion.
Megan Abbott’s “The End of Everything” is different. Abbott doesn’t tell the story from the point of view of the victim’s family. Instead she chooses a girl — the friend of the kidnap victim — as narrator. The girl provides a relatively neutral emotional perspective. And I like it.
“The End” follows 13-year-old Lizzie Hood. Lizzie’s parents are divorced and her dad lives hundreds of miles away. Her older brother rarely speaks to her and her mom carries on with a married man — an activity that leaves little time for Lizzie.
Lizzie’s best friend, however, seems to have it all. Evie Verver lives next door to Lizzie. Her mom is standoffish but nice. And her dad is present in every sense of the word. He spends quality time with Evie and her glamorous 17-year-old sister Dusty. They laugh, dance and play together.
Desperate for attention, Lizzie is happy to live in the Verver’s shadow. Then, one afternoon, Lizzie becomes the center of their spotlight. Evie disappears, and Lizzie is the last person to have seen her. There are clues in Lizzie’s brain, but it takes her time to dig them up and to share them with the police. And even when her clues point to a viable suspect, they aren’t quite good enough.
Lizzie embarks on an investigation of her own. She prowls through her neighborhood at night, breaks into private property and provides partially false information to police. And during the day, Lizzie spends time at the Verver home. She tries to console Evie’s dad, while avoiding the wrath of Dusty.
Ultimately, Lizzie uncovers the whole truth. She finds out more about the Verver family than she ever wanted to know. And while the Verver household is perhaps not as sunny as she believed it to be, neither is her own home as dark.
“The End” tells a complex coming-of-age tale that explores the intricacies of family relationships and close friendships. It will give book groups a lot to discuss and readers many thoughts to ponder.
In addition to “The End,” Abbott has written several other novels, a nonfiction work and numerous short stories. Her writing has earned her some of publishing’s most sought-after awards, including a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allen Poe Award.
Miller is the author of two $.99 ebooks for children ages 8-12. Both ebooks are set in Colorado Springs. For information or to offer column suggestions, visit www.anitalaydonmiller.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.