This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
On a chilly day, the principal of Opportunity High School is giving a speech to her students, kicking off the new semester. The majority of the school is gathered in the auditorium, listening to her speak. As she finishes, they prepare to head to their next class, but the doors are stuck. Then, suddenly, someone begins to shoot.
The book is told from the viewpoint of a handful of kids (four) from Opportunity High and basically unfolds in less than a hour -- the time it takes for a horrific tragedy to fall upon their school and community. We hear from Sylvia and her twin brother Tomas. We also get the perspective of Autumn, Sylvia's best friend, who is struggling with the death of her mother and her abusive father, all the while watching her brother, Tyler, an Opportunity High dropout, drift away from her. Finally, we see things from Claire's perspective; a member of the track team - Claire is outside practicing when the tragedy begins, but worried about her brother Matt, who is inside.
I read this book in a few hours - its short time span makes it terrifying and you want to speed through to find out what happens to these kids. It's an all too horrifying and realistic account of what can happen with school shootings (and beware, some of the descriptions can be very graphic). The interwoven stories of the kids do a good job of telling the story and portraying the strong bond of family and friendship that can exist -- especially at the hyper-sensitive stage of high school, where everything truly does seem like life or death sometimes.
There's an added LGBT angle to this story, which is a nice twist, as it's very natural to the book. The kids' tales, overall, seem true to their voices, but some of the writing is stilted and tough to read (not from the subject matter, but the way it's written). The author overuses the play on words with "opportunity" far too much - it would have been better to just let the story play itself out. We get the parallels - no need to spell them out (over and over and over) for us.
Still, this is a powerful book - it's heartbreakingly lovely, really, and will leave you hoping and praying that no more children *ever* have to go through this experience. It's a worthy read, even if it leaves you hurting, but I would make sure you talk about it in detail with your teens. It's a tough subject matter that needs to be discussed.
This is definitely a book worth reading - if you're interested in
winning an advanced copy, please check out the publisher's tumblr page here at the Sourcebooks Fire Tumblr.
(I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.)
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