This is a review of the 2011 book "The end of everything" by Megan Abbott. This is a coming of age novel about two 13 year old girls who are starting to find out that life isn't all hockey sticks and ice cream.
A bit about the story
Lizzie and Evie are best friends. They are both 13 and live next door to each other. They go to school together and wear each other's clothes. One day Evie goes missing and Lizzie turns part detective in trying to find her. Lizzie is like a separated twin, dreaming about Evie, hearing her voice and finding clues in places the police miss in their search. By day 11 everyone has given up hope of finding her alive except Lizzie who is determined to lead the police to her best friend. Alive if possible.
Lizzie is so curious about adults and finds their secrets fascinating. Her mother has a boyfriend that she thinks Lizzie doesn't know about but Lizzie knows he is there, finding an odd sock under her mother's bed and even seeing them on the porch late at night. She struggles to understand the feelings she is experiencing in her body and is fascinated by boys. Lizzie and Evie (at the beginning of the book) are obsessed with Evie's older sister Dusty. Her room and possessions unlock the key to a world of adulthood and they are not sure whether they are ready to join that world yet or not. Evie is a complex character and she is possibly more mature than Lizzie. They race to see who will be first to wear a bra and copy each other style with matching swimming costumes.
Evie's dad is a really strange one. He is unnaturally close to his older daughter Dusty and they laugh together about the dates and moves boys are making on her. Lizzie is so jealous of their relationship that she is determined to win Mr Verver's affections by giving him the leads to Evie's whereabouts. Mrs Verver is so drugged up during Evie's disappearance that she doesn't have a clue what is happening in her basement .
The mysterious Mr Shaw who lives in the neighbourhood is the key suspect (this is revealed very early in the book) as he has disappeared at the same time as Evie. Lizzie knows his son from school and the kids are quick to spread rumours and gossip that makes them both feel uncomfortable about Evie's condition, dead or alive?
All of the book is written from Lizzie's perspective and sometimes, the text is in italic, indicating Lizzie's thoughts and dreams. She almost has visions of Evie and what is happening to her. It also has flashbacks to all the things they used to do together and instances where Evie has hinted about a man loitering in her life. At the time, Evie hasn't really picked up on these comments and is now frustrated that she didn't pursue it more with Evie at the time.
I quickly read this book, it really reminded me of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold in parts. I think if you enjoyed reading that book then you would probably enjoy this one. Some of the relationships between adult and children are very confused and even wrong in the book, but it also shows you how all seeing and hearing children can be. Lizzie does a lot of escaping when she is supposed to be in the house and she never really gets punished for this by her mother who seems unaware that Lizzie is out when there is a potential child snatcher on the loose. Lizzie enjoys a lot of freedom for such a young child and I was also surprised that her mother let her spend so much time with Mr Verver (Evie's dad) in his basement alone together whilst they look at his records and he drinks beers. All whilst his daughter is missing. Very odd.
This was a good book to read and really did make me wonder right until the last few chapters whether Evie was alive or dead. It did not read like a murder detective book and sometimes the clues Lizzie found or things she remembered were virtually ignored by the family and police which is frustrating as a reader to take. The lines between adults and children are seriously confused in this book and definitely crossed at times. I wished that Lizzie had more care from her mother and brother (her father is off the scene) but at least she had a good best friend and other people watching out for her.