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