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"We need to make books cool again. If you go home with someone & they don't have books, don't fuck 'em."--John Waters

I'm the author of more than twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, THE MIDNIGHT ROAD, THE DEAD LETTERS, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. Look for my next one THE LAST KIND WORDS due out May '12 from Bantam Books. Contact: PicSelf1@aol.com

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

Lizzie Hood and Evie Verver are two inseparable 13 year-old best friends who share in everything from field hockey to picnics at the lake. Evie’s older beautiful sister Dusty is sophisticated and loved from afar by all the schoolboys, a dynamic but damaged young woman who offers the girls an exciting view of what’s to come in their own near-future. Evie’s father is a handsome, strong, and giving man who has replaced Lizzie’s own distant father.

So when Evie goes missing one afternoon after school Lizzie is left feeling not only frightened for her friend but incomplete in herself. As the Verver family stumbles along day by day with a fruitless police investigation, it’s up to Lizzie to pull together fleeting impressions and half-remembered comments made by Evie that might hold the answer to where she’s gone or who may have taken her.

Did she have a secret boyfriend? Were there troubles with classmates? Problems at home? As Lizzie’s pubescent crush on Mr. Verver grows, he entertains her with stories of his own adolescence and dazzles her with visions of what she can look forward to where heartache and true love are concerned. As dark intentions and veiled ambitions are slowly revealed, Lizzie is forced to come to a decision on exactly how much she should keep hidden and what she should acknowledge.

Author Megan Abbott’s narrative is exquisite, atmospheric, muscular yet subtle, exploring the mythic essence of truth as much as developing the story by parceling out clues and observations on characters and the secret spheres they inhabit. The plot is naturally and intricately built upon Lizzie’s memories, dreams, and sometimes imperfect understanding of the Verver family and the larger world around her. Like in life, small gestures take on greater significance: A hesitation, a glimpse, a half-spoken whisper, a touch on the wrist become powerful earmarks and signs for a pubescent girl.

Abbott puts as much emphasis on the pained human condition as the whos and whys of the tense mystery. The often cruel and confused motives of the human heart underscore a grand and involving maze of conflict, giving the story a broad and gripping canvas. This is mainstream literature by way of noir anguish and page-turning suspense. Dramatic, complex, poignant, and gut-plucking, The End of Everything is the kind of realistic yet dark-hearted coming-of-age story that’s likely to reintroduce you to the skeletons in your own bricked-over family closet.

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