Friday, September 22, 2023

FFB Review: The End of Everything: A Novel by Megan Abbott

From the massive archive... 

Before it happened, it seemed to 13 year old Lizzie Hood that the Verner family next door was perfect in every way. Lizzie had been friends with Evie for what seemed like forever and spent almost every waking moment in her company. Evie’s mom is bland and unassuming. Evie’s sister, Dusty, rules home and school where nearly every guy wants her and yet none can have her. Unlike lizzie’s own father who has left the house and moved on with his life thanks to the divorce, Evie’s father, Mr. Verner, is not only constantly around, he might be the most perfect father and man on earth. All is right in the world as school winds down and the two girls have a summer to look forward to before starting High School.

Then, the unthinkable happens and Evie vanishes one afternoon. Evie and Lizzie were going to walk home, but Lizzie’s mom picked her up instead so that they could go to the Mall. Evie was supposed to go on home, but never made it there. Now Evie is missing and the perfect world next door is starting to crack in so many ways.

As the days pass with Evie missing, author Megan Abbott skillfully weaves in clues, backstory, and tension to show characters that are evolving and changing in many ways while the story itself becomes much more complex. The disappearance truly does bring about The End of Everything in so many ways as Lizzie comes to grips with the idea that things next door were not so perfect after all. While the Verver family fractures in ways that one would somewhat expect as well as ways one wouldn’t, Lizzie’s whole world changes. Perceptions of what was real and what was fantasy, before and after the abduction, change as does her understanding of her own motivations and feelings. In a way, there is a certain coming of age aspect to this complex novel as Lizzie is forced to confront things that were, in some form, always there but far beneath the surface.

From a reviewer standpoint, this is a difficult book to review without sharing far too much. It is also one that is hard to explain concisely as the complex book goes in many different ways at the same time raising far more questions than it answers. Adult, and sometimes disturbing, themes are very strong in this book and will produce strong reactions from some readers. Much is implied or hinted at though how seriously to take it as actual character feeling/motivation is up to the reader.

As reviews elsewhere make abundantly clear while also often telling far too much, this is one of those novels that how the reader reads between the lines will determine much more about what the book means or says to the reader than what the author actually wrote. Deceptively short at 246 pages of actual story this is a very good book. The End Of Everything by Megan Abbott is a book packed with complex characters, deep emotion, and a complex mystery that will keep you thinking long after you close the book.


Material supplied by Patti Abbot via a contest on her blog several months ago with no expectation of any review. 


Kevin R. Tipple © 2011, 2016, 2023


pattinase (abbott) said...

Great review, Kevin. And when asked at a book talk in June which of her books she enjoyed writing the most TEOE was her response.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

From way back when I was a better reviewer than now.

thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing that. Pretty cool all across the board.