The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
Published by Picador in 2011
My copy: Secondhand copy
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. This is no ordinary tale of innocence lost . . .
The novel is narrated by 13-year-old Lizzie, and we find out from the very start just how close she is to her next-door neighbour and best friend Evie. The girls have been inseparable forever and they share everything.
When Evie disappears, Lizzie doesn’t know what to think, and she finds herself getting directly involved in the hunt for clues. In doing so, she finds out things about her best friend, and often doesn’t know what to do with the information she has. Alongside this, she gets very close to Evie’s father, much to the growing annoyance of Evie’s older, glamorous sister Dusty.
Lizzie’s voice and point of view are interesting, and often you are unsure whether she is a reliable narrator, as she is blinded by her affection for Evie and Evie’s family – and despite seeming worldly-wise at some points, she is also quite naïve.
This book is really a mishmash of themes. It is part mystery, part of coming-of-age story – but actually by the end much of the novel is also deeply disturbing, dealing with some quite uncomfortable themes. The book is a pretty quick and easy read, and you do want to know what has happened to Evie. While most things are tied up at the end, there is a real sense of a lot having been unsaid and you find yourself thinking about the book even after it’s finished.
I do have mixed feelings about this novel. It was an easy read but really quite disturbing in parts, and I’m not sure how convincing either the storyline or the narrator were. However there was much I did like about it; the mysterious elements of Evie’s disappearance worked well, and the general creepiness of certain aspects of the novel did also get under my skin. I think the book is also brave in some ways as it does tackle some pretty unpleasant subjects, and there is also something quite unnerving about several of the characters in the book.
Overall a good read, and I will most probably pick up Abbott’s new book when it’s out later this year.