This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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.


2 thoughts on “This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

  1. As a teacher, the topic of the book seems terrifying! But also I’m curious about how the narrative might play out in only one hour. Might just have to set aside my fears and pick this one up.


  2. I love the pictures you do for your posts, they are so pretty 🙂
    This is Where it Ends sounds intense and really sad at the same time. It sounds like something that would be hard to read sometimes. I haven’t read it but I know my sister did.


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