Coming of Age at the End of Days by Alice LaPlante
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Anna is a depressed teenager living with her parents in a conventional California suburb. One day, she finds herself pulled out of her "melancholia" by meeting Lars, another teen who moves into her neighborhood, and his parents. Lars and his family introduce Anna to the world of his "church," which is more of religious cult that has a forceful prophecy about the upcoming end of days.
As Anna becomes more and more drawn into this religious world, she finds herself beset by visions and otherwise withdrawing from life around her, including her parents, who are confused and upset by her religious fervor. Anna's only other real contacts are her neighbor, Jim, a mid-20-something who has returned home to live with his parents after a string of disgraces, and Jim's crush/sweetheart, Clara, who also teaches chemistry at Anna's high school.
I'll be honest - I just didn't like this book. It wasn't what I was expecting from this author, or even the description of the novel. I loved LaPlante's "Turn of Mind," but this was nothing like that novel. The plot was odd, disjointed, and really seemed to make no sense. Anna is not a sympathetic character to me -- I completely empathized with her bewildered parents. There really seems to be no reason why Anna would become so drawn into this religion (which perhaps may be the point, but if so, it's not really made well). There are odd plot twists and turns that seem just to pop up out of nowhere, for no reason, including the oddly inserted ending and epilogue. Even's Anna's visions aren't really explained well.
I don't know; I was disappointed by this read. Perhaps I just missed a greater point this book was trying to make, but it didn't do it for me.
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(Note I received an ARC of this book from Negalley in return for an unbiased review.)