The End of Everything
Megan AbbottA 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.
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.
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.
Megan Abbott Video
Read the first chapter of End Of Everything
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