My Thoughts on Megan Abbott, The End of Everything

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 And that makes me think of all the parents at block parties when we were kids, the way they would huddle with one another's spouses, sneaking off for smokes like teenagers, dancing too close, dropping beer bottles and tripping across lawns.  Like married people love to do. And they love to make their husbands, their wives, act the knuckle-rapping parents all day so they can play the wayward kid.  Is being young so magical that they must conjure it up again, can't help themselves?  I don't see any magic in it at all.

This quote from Megan Abbott's extremely dark, but strangely beautiful book about a child abduction, shows the central irony, and truth, about desire. While watching all the adults in the neighborhood play at recaptured youth,  Lizzie Hood, the narrator, and her best friend Evie are dangerously playing at adulthood.  They envy Evie's older sister, her confidence, and her relationship with her father, which seems so, well, adult.  The summer before entering high school, Lizzie and Evie are at the perfect transitional moment for Abbott to tell her story, which isn't just a crime story, but a story about wanting.  Gillian Flynn calls the book a "story of yearning" in her blurb, and that was the essence of the novel for me as well.  Some of the desires in the story are taboo, others are criminal, and others (Lizzie's in particular) are without object or misdirected.  And yet, those desires are the ties that bind all of Abbott's characters.

But, I am ahead of myself.  The End of Everything is the story of Evie's abduction just before her middle school graduation, and Lizzie's desperate attempt to solve the crime herself using things that Evie has told her. As she searches for more of these clues in the depths of her memory, she finds herself at the center of the investigation, the rock that Evie's crumbling father starts to rely on.  Sleuthing becomes a catalyst for many rites of passage for Lizzie as well, and she finds darkness in her own desires, alongside holes from things that she didn't know were missing.

The book is but hard to put down despite its often disturbing subject matter, and not only because there is a crime to be solved at the heart of the plot.  Abbott's descriptive capabilities, and her understanding of the psychology of young girls, are impressive.  Something about the way she writes embroils the reader in a realistic sort of moral murkiness, which her characters are experiencing themselves. Under every interaction, no matter how innocent the pretense, there is something sinister lurking. I recommend this book certainly to fans of dark fiction and noir who can handle a little murk.

Title:The End of Everything
Author: Megan Abbott
 Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Date: 2011
Genre: Noir, Fiction

246 pages.
Where I got it: The library
 Challenges: None


  1. I remember seeing this book at Barnes and Noble and it did appeal to me, but your summary has me sold! Off to add to my must-read list! ;)


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