This one is a good example of why I love ebooks; stuck in a traffic jam yesterday (as a passenger, I should add) I had no physical book but I do have the Kindle app on my phone. So I downloaded This Is Where It Ends and wiled away the hour and a half reading that instead of staring out at cars.
This Is Where It Ends deals with one hour at a high school in Alabama, in which the doors of the auditorium are locked at the end of the principal’s welcome back speech and a gunman open fires. It’s told from the point of view of four characters; Autumn, the gunman’s sister; Claire, his ex; Sylv, Autumn’s girlfriend and Tomás, her twin brother. Sylv and Autumn are locked inside with the rest of the school while Claire and Tomás seek help from outside. It’s gripping, and I read it pretty much in one go (with a brief interlude to buy my sister a birthday present). Some parts weren’t pleasant and I imagine that it would be a much more difficult read for someone who lives anywhere where a high school shooting has taken place in living memory; a significant portion of the characters that die aren’t anonymous and it is made very clear that all of those people aren’t just extraneous characters- they mean something within the school.
I think I may have stumbled upon this one as part of a recommendation during the Diverse-A-Thon (during which I bought a bunch of new books, but only read the ones I already owned). The cast of characters feels quite effortlessly diverse; two of the narrators are lesbians, Sylv and her brother are Latinx, Tomás best friend is from Afghanistan (and Tomás’ fears that his friend Far will be assumed to be a suspect are noted) and several of the other characters are explicitly stated to be POC. It’s a modern day high school in America, of course it should be representative of a diverse range of people.
The only thing I found a little bit tricky about reading it… Is that it takes place over an hour. And I did not read it in an hour. That kind of pulled me out of it because I had to keep readjusting how much time I thought had passed in the story every time I started a new chapter. But there was no way around that and it’s by no way a criticism of the writing itself. It’s just a particular challenge of this kind of story that would work brilliantly on screen but is really difficult to get perfect on paper.
Overall I really enjoyed this one. It was a fairly quick read and I think it was better for it; too long as the point of the story would have been lost. It’s pretty brutal in places, but also a poetic kind of romantic with a big focus on family, love and sacrifice.