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The End of Everything by Megan Abbott

The End of Everything is the first novel that I've read by Megan Abbott.  It is not the author's first novel.  I looked up Abbott's previous titles because I liked this one enough and the titles listed on the inside cover were pretty kick ass--like you know how sometimes you can tell you'll want to read a book just by the title alone? Or an intriguing title is enough to get you look it up on Amazon to find out what it's about?  Well, that's why I looked up previous Abbott titles--totally forgetting that I already did this weeks ago and, when the photos of the book covers came up on Amazon, it all came back to me.  Because the covers make the books look like pulp crime fiction titles.  I don't know if they're really that or not, but it was enough (for now) for me to decide that I don't want to read any of the previous titles.  I may change my mind in the future, but the descriptions of the plots didn't really redeem the book covers enough to make me want to read them.  Maybe someday I will, but not right now.  That's a little disappointing because I really liked The End of Everything, even though I feel like it's probably an entirely different genre and writing style than the author's previous novels.

Lizzie and Evie are thirteen, best friends, "body-close," and inseparable when Evie disappears on her walk home from school one afternoon.  Lizzie, the last one to see her, is the key--in more ways than she realizes at first.  Because as Lizzie examines the last moments she spent with Evie, the last months of their friendship, she sees that hindsight reveals that things were changing incrementally in their friendship and in Evie.  Lizzie realizes that even though they may no longer have been "body-close," there are still things she knows bone deep.  There are secrets Evie kept from her parents, from her sister, even from Lizzie, even as she tried obliquely and subtly to show these secrets to Lizzie, to make her know them, too, in the months leading up to her disappearance.  Things and secrets that Lizzie was too innocent and naive to intuit at the time, but which later examination reveals.

Lizzie knows these things, knows who took Evie, knows why he took Evie, but she is still a child after all and these are heavy things for an innocent child to piece together to show the adults in her life and difficult, too, because most of what she knows is locked up in memories dredged up with intense introspection, furtive detective work completed in the darkness of night, and the bone deep, gut instinct that tells her that Evie still lives somewhere, somehow, waiting to be found.  And Lizzie is the only one who still really believes this, while all the adults in her life prepare themselves for the worst as the investigation and Evie's disappearance drag on for over a week.

This is a haunting, nail biting mystery thriller wrapped up in the crucible of the months that forced Lizzie to come of age, to see that the world is complex and was never simple at all.  This is a story about a friendship seen mostly through the eyes of one of those friends as much as it is about a child's disappearance and its effects wrought on that child's family and friends.  I recommend you check this book out the next time you visit the library.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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