The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

the end of everythingUncomfortable but engrossing…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Written in the first person, we see the story unfold through the eyes of 13-year-old Lizzie. Evie and Lizzie have been friends for ever in that close, intimate way that only happens in childhood where every secret and emotion is shared. Now, however, Evie has disappeared and Lizzie is trying to make sense of her feelings of loss, her suspicions that Evie may have been hiding something and her relationships with Evie’s family who have been her second family for so long.

Voices pitchy, giddy, raving, we are all chanting that deathly chant that twists, knifelike, in the ear of the appointed victim. One o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, four o’clock, five o’clock… And it’s Evie, she’s it, lost at choosies, and now it will be her doom. But she’s a good hider, the best I’ve ever seen, and I predict wild surprises…

This book is an examination of that difficult time when childhood and adolescence meet. Lizzie is experiencing her first feelings of sexual desire and is trying to understand and deal with this. Being 13 is a long time ago for me now, but Lizzie took me back to that turmoil of emotions, that clash of innocence and knowingness, that combined sense of anticipation and apprehension of a new phase of life, and it seemed to me that the author had caught this incredibly accurately. Through Lizzie, she talks about the physical changes, the private fantasies, the struggle to understand the motivations of adults and to be accepted by them in a new way, the secrets and stresses within families.

Lizzie is telling her story retrospectively with the vocabulary of an adult but expressing the thoughts and feelings of a child. I know some people found this jarring, but I love Abbott’s use of language. It always strikes me as innovative and original, and in this book took me right inside Lizzie’s head as she tries to deal with these frightening events that are suddenly thrusting her into an adult world.

What did it mean, sitting in that motel parking lot, waiting to see? What did it mean to know she’d been there, maybe just minutes before, she’d been there, so close you could maybe still feel her, hear the squeak of her tennis shoes on the doormat, smell her baby-soft hair. They’d been there, been there behind one of those clotty red doors, and done such things…and now gone. And now gone.

Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott

The book is tautly written and relatively short at around 250 pages. I found it an uncomfortable but engrossing read, covering aspects of pubescent sexuality that we sometimes like to pretend don’t exist. Suspenseful to the end and with a pervading atmosphere of dread, I shared with Lizzie a need not just to know what had happened to Evie, but to understand. This is not a book I will soon forget – I highly recommend it to anyone who was once a 13-year-old girl, though I was glad to see that it has been well received by male reviewers too.

NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

7 thoughts on “The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

  1. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you liked this as much as you did. I’m a fan of Megan Abbott’s work, and this one was, in my opinion, quite well done. Abbott does a terrific job I think of capturing the unreliable narrator, and she weaves a psychological story quite well.

    • I was blown away by this one, and loved her next Dare Me (review soon!) just as much. I love the way she builds her sentences – almost stream of consciousness sometime, but marvellously controlled. As always, I’ve been meaning to back-track and read her other stuff, but no time, no time…

    • As you’ll have gathered, I loved it, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to say a lot of people really disliked it too – they couldn’t accept the narrator’s voice as that of a 13-year-old, I think. If you liked the quotes, I think you’ll probably like the book – I hope you do! 🙂

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