Monday, January 25, 2016

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

The students of Opportunity High School are gathered in the auditorium for a speech from the principal about the beginning of a new semester.  When they get up to leave, they find that all the doors are locked and then Tyler starts shooting.  During the next 54 minutes the reader hears about the shooting from four different perspectives:  Tyler's ex-girlfriend, his sister, his sister's girlfriend, and her brother.  Each of them have their own issues with Tyler but none of them could've imagined this would happen. 

This is a devastating book that left me thinking "whoa" for at least five hours after finishing it.  It is much too real and easy to imagine happening given the real school shootings of recent years.  What makes it strong:  we are never inside Tyler's head which is very good.  It would be tempting to somehow try to make us feel some sympathy for him since he is obviously disturbed but Nijkamp never takes us down this path.  The characters are diverse but in a natural way, not a "Oh, look, there are lesbians in here" way.  Their relationship is loving and rings true without exploitation which also goes for the Hispanic and Muslim characters.  Give this book a try, if you have the nerves to get through it.

You can watch my video review of it here:

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