Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book: The End of Everything, by Megan Abbott (2011)

Lizzie Hood is not just infatuated with her neighbors the Ververs. She’s intoxicated by them. The charismatic family patriarch. Teenaged Dusty, already breaking hearts. And especially Lizzie’s best friend Evie. The two thirteen-year-olds are inseparable until, all too abruptly, they are not. One day after school Evie Verver vanishes, turning the Michigan suburb they live in upside down. And poor Lizzie knows both more and less than she thinks she does.

Megan Abbott, who won the Edgar award for Queenpin and whose Bury Me Deep is one of my favorite recent crime novels, brings her own unique sensibility to this coming of age tale set in the early 1980s. Lizzie’s voice is a hybrid of right-now and long-ago, at times uncomfortably close to the intimate mysteries of adolescence. What Lizzie mentions in passing about her own family – her parents’ divorce, her father’s distant presence, the strange man in her mother’s life – is every bit as interesting as her obsessive study of the house next door. As the story builds in intensity, Lizzie learns that secrets can still be kept behind doors that are open to you. The End of Everything is like one of those illicit youthful visits to the liquor cabinet at a friend’s house, a swirl of exotic flavors that leaves you dizzied.

UPDATE: Here's my Q&A with Megan about the book.