The End of Everything

Megan Abbott

A close-knit street, the clink of glass on glass, summer heat. Two girls on the brink of adolescence, throwing cartwheels on the grass. Two girls who tell each other everything. Until one shimmering afternoon, one of them disappears. Lizzie is left with her dread and her loss, and with a fear that won't let her be. Had Evie tried to give her a hint of what was coming, a clue that she failed to follow? Caught between her imaginary guilt, her sense of betrayal, her own powerful need, and the needs of the adults around her, Lizzie's voice is as unforgettable as her story is arresting.
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Judy

Do you remember being 13? Whether you were an adolescent boy or girl, you will probably still have memories of complicated confusion: about your relationships with your parents and schoolfriends, what future awaited you, and, more than anything else, about sex.

Thirteen year olds Lizzie and Evie live next door to each other in a sedate mid-west suburb in the 1980s. They've been best friends for ever. They share everything, every thought, ever emotion.

Or do they? Lizzie thought she knew her friend inside out, but as puberty rears its seductively monstrous head, she begins to wonder if in fact she understood Evie at all.

Then one day after school, Evie vanishes. The only clue to her mysterious disappearance is a maroon sedan car that Lizzie saw cruising past the two girls before they separated - Lizzie to go shopping with her mother, Evie (supposedly) to walk home.

Evie's parents and the wider adult community in this small, placid American suburb, look increasingly to Lizzie for answers. And she obliges with uncomfortable insights into her friend's habits. Who is the mysterious man Evie saw in her own garden late at night? Was he snooping on her, or her glamorous older sister, Dusty?

In this beautifully-written novel, Megan Abbott explores the emerging sexuality of adolescent girls. She examines the complicity between 13 year olds and the adults surrounding them. More than anything, she shows that girls that young are not necessarily as innocent as they seem. Their dark need for admiration and recognition of their pubescent sexual allure in an unacknowledged part of their complex personalities.

I loved this book. Its intensity and portrayal of the confused but deeply powerful emotions of teenage girls make it a totally compelling read.

Richard

This is a very intense, riveting book. Of particular interest to me as a father, is the role Evie's family plays both in her life, and in that of her best friend's, Lizzie.

Lizzie idealises her Evie's father. So do both his daughters, 13 year old Evie, and her older sister, Dusty.

Dusty in particular adores her dad in a way that makes the reader feel uncomfortable. Although there is no suggestion that she and Mr Verver (as he is always known to Lizzie) have a sexual relationship, it is clear that her infatuation with him is not wholesome, and that he returns her inappropriate feelings.

Watching Dusty and her dad laugh together, sunbathe together, and dismissively discuss the boyfriends she contemptuously spurns, Evie become jealous and sulky. The implication is that she, too, yearns for the admiration of an adult male.

Meanwhile Evie's mother is a complete cipher. She hardly appears in the book, ignored by both her husband and her daughters.

So what is going on in this strange, but ever-so-staid suburban household. When Evie disappears, all the adults in her life assume she has been abducted by a pervert. But what thoughts are running through Evie's mind? Is she really in danger, or is she actually calling all the shots?

This brilliant book is dark and disturbing, but a totally enthralling read.

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Reviews & Comments

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  • I just hated this book. Had to force myself to read it to the end in case there was something i had missed. there wasn't.

    Mari

  • This book sounds really good but I'm not sure if it'll be a bit to creepy. I think I'll give it a wurl as my curiousity about the book will only do my head in otherwise.

    Martin

  • Not my cup of tea at all, only completed reading as have bought all the autumn books and thought it was only fair to give it a chance. Found it very boring and lacking in actual depth, it didn't hold my attention at all. Hope the rest of the books are better than this.

    Lisa

  • Nothing special at all! Don't waste your money it's a story that can be summarised in a maximum of a few chapters!

    Jade

  • I agree. Not great! I am not convinced that teenagers often find their friends' dads quite so appealing.

    Annette

  • I agree! I usually love the R&J book club books, but I found this book lacked any type of depth. It almost felt like a teenagers book?! I finished it because I was waiting for a bombshell... There wasn't one really, perhaps a raised eyebrow by the dads behaviour... I'm not sure?!

    Sian

  • I was really disappointed with The End of Everything. Yes it is beautifully written, but the narrative from the perspective of a 13 year old just didn't ring true to me. Lizzie and Evie are best friends, then one day, Evie goes missing. From that moment on, I began to loose patience with the main character, Lizzie and her actions - some of which are bizarre and incomprehensible. Would a 13 year old girl really be creeping about in the dark and finding clues that police force have missed? Why did she lie about where she found evidence? I never got to the bottom of that! I also found the attraction to Mr. Verver to be strange - when you are 13, you just don't think of your friends dads that way - do you?! Also, don't get me started on the descriptions of Lizzie's dreams. I hate hearing about anyone's dreams in real life, let alone a fictional character who seems to spend her whole time nearly remembering things, deep down in the recesses or her innermost soul, but not quite. I ended up skipping any paragraph written in italics which contained a dreaded meaningless dream description. Ultimately I found the story to be unsatisfying, which is a shame, as it seemed quite promising early on. I don't feel inspired to read any of Megan Abbott's other novels as a result of reading this.

    Lucy

  • I agree largely with everything written by the other reviewers. My most compelling memory of it is how disturbing it is in terms of the various types of relationships between the men and the teenaged girls. Real shudder-worthy stuff. And I'm pretty sure I was never like that at 13 ! Not one I'd wholeheartedly recommend.

    Pam

  • I really disliked this book. I agree with Mari - I read to the end thinking I might miss something, but no, precisely nothing happened. Boring & occasionally creepy. Avoid.

    Lea

  • I agree with everything Lucy said. I am so surprised that this even made it on to the list as I have loved most of the choices in the past. Truly awful.

    Debra

  • Certainly not one to recommend!

    RR

  • This book was disappointing, it just never got going and had to read to the end to see if it enlighted me - it didn't. Just felt it never got going !!! But if you want a really good read try "Forever is Over" by Calvin Wade !!!

    Cathie

  • This book was a very strange read. I found it dreary and depressing. I am not sure I understood it properly as it was not easy to follow. The ending was a bit sick if I am correct. Not the best book however I did get to the end, so it was not the worst. There was something making me want to see what happend.

    Susie

  • I loved the book! Amazing how author captured mind of 13 year old...brought back many memories. I can so easily relate to Lizzy that is is almost crazy. A few aspects of her character I found were a little younger than 13 years (ie. investigative piece and some of the fabricated information). With respect to the sexual abuse story line, I felt Mr. Verver's inappropriate interactions with the girls throughout...loved that it was confirmed for the reader in the final paragraph. Anyone who has any knowledge of sexual abuse would know that how each character is presented in this novel is "textbook".

    Willow

  • I'm sad to say that I have to agree with the general consensus as this book was rather disappointing. I usually read my books within a day or two but this literally took me 10 days because I wasn't interested in the story enough to pick it up...I didn't really understand the point of the story but I guess it was to illustrate the relationships we begin to build as teenagers. Rather baffled actually.

    Zoe-Hayley

  • I love this book. I think it does capture the mind of 13 year old very well - with all the secrets and sometimes sinister-ness of adolescence. It also clearly demonstrates the close-knit bond between best friends. I appreciate that since it's told from the perspective of a 13 year old, it may be different to what some readers may have expected from a usual crime/mystery book. However, it is still a fantastic, easy read and kept me interested the whole way through.

    Alice

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