THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott

Book Quote:

“Sometimes at night, he’s out there.”

Book Review:

Review by Guy Savage  (JUL 7, 2011)

There’s one thing you can count on with author Megan Abbott, you can never predict which direction her novels will take you. Abbott’s first novel, Die a Little is set in 50s Hollywood and is an exploration of the strange relationship between two women. Then came The Song is You, based on the unsolved disappearance of actress Jean Spangler. This novel was followed by Queenpin, the story of a female book keeper who works for a glamorous, hard-as-nails mob-connected woman. Abbott’s next novel, Bury me Deep, set in the 30s, is a fictionalized account of a real-life murder. And that brings me to The End of Everything, a deeply engrossing book in which Abbott explores the relationship between two 13-year-old girls. I don’t care for a child narrator, but there are hints that this tale is told by Lizzie in adulthood years later.

The End of Everything is set in contemporary times in a sleepy Midwestern upscale community, and the tale is narrated by Lizzie Hood–a 13-year-old who is about to graduate from middle school. She lives with her older brother, Ted and her divorced mother in a large house right next door to her inseparable friend, Evie Verver. Lizzie’s mother is having an affair with a local married doctor, and he sneaks into the house at night for furtive trysts. Since things are not always so hot at Lizzie’s house, it makes a lot of sense for Lizzie to spend a great deal of time at Evie’s house. Evie’s home seems to be the perfect, safe haven for the two girls to hang out together. While Evie’s mother is in the shadowy background, focused on domestic tasks, Evie’s father is kind, concerned and very involved in the lives of his two daughters: Evie and her “deeply glamorous” older sister, 17-year-old Dusty:

“A movie star, in halter tops and eyelet and clacking Dr. Scholl’s. Eyelashes like gold foil and eyes the colour of watermelon rind and a soft, curvy body. Always shiny-lipped and bright white-teethed, lip smack, flash of tongue, lashes bristling, color high and surging up her cheeks.”

The summer begins just “like a million other girl summers.” But then the unthinkable happens…one day Evie disappears. There are no clues to her whereabouts, and Lizzie was one of the last people to see her. Then Lizzie remembers seeing a maroon sedan slowly coasting back and forth right before Evie disappeared….

Megan Abbott captures not only the voice of a vulnerable 13-year-old girl, but she also captures the grief, the desperation, and also the paranoia that surrounds Evie’s disappearance. In Evie’s absence, Lizzie is increasingly drawn to the Verver household. She feels the need to fill the void left by Evie. Being in Evie’s home and even wearing her clothes somehow makes Lizzie feel less helpless, but since this is a Megan Abbott novel, there are darker forces at play. Lizzie becomes the central figure in the maelstrom surrounding Evie’s disappearance. While Lizzie’s classmates speculate about what is happening to Evie and luxuriate in the lurid imagined details, Lizzie is drawn deeper and deeper into the secrets behind Evie’s disappearance.

The End of Everything, an impressive change of pace for Abbott, has the macabre feel of a Grimm’s fairy tale, and this is achieved partly through the author’s playful use of language and through the references to the Verver girls as “princesses.” This riveting story builds a safe world and then dismantles it, brick by brick while exploring the loss of innocence. The disappearance of a 13- year-old-girl is terrifying, but there’s another secret predatory terror here that lurks in the corner just off the page and slightly out-of-focus. Abbott strips away the safety net of family and gives us a dark glimpse of what festers underneath:

“These are all the good things, and there were such good things. But then there were the other things, and they seemed to come later, but what if they didn’t? What if everything was there all along, creeping soundlessly from corner to corner, shuddering fast from Evie’s nighttime whispers, from the dark hollows of that sunny-shingled house, and I didn’t hear it? Didn’t see it?”

AMAZON READER RATING: from 61 readers
PUBLISHER: Reagan Arthur Books (July 7, 2011)
REVIEWER: Guy Savage
AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK? YES! Start Reading Now!
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Megan Abbott and new blog
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July 7, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Mystery/Suspense, US Midwest, y Award Winning Author

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