Book review: This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp

Nijkamp, Marieke. This Is Where It Ends. Sourcebooks Fire, 2016. 282 pages. $17.99. ISBN 9781492622468. Ages 14-up. P7Q8

Nijkamp This Is Where It EndsIn the 54 minutes following the opening assembly of the new school year, a school shooting changes the lives of the entire community of rural Opportunity, Alabama. Told through the stories of four students involved with the shooter in various ways, the reasons behind the shootings slowly become clear. Although the events of the narrative may feel chaotic—a realistic reaction to the unimaginable—and the reader must learn the names and history of the characters already well-known to the narrators, moments of intense fear and incredible heroism shine through. Interestingly, the shooter has no voice until late in the story. His casual killing and statements that all assembled must now hear him do not actually inform readers of his motivation for the massacre. Flashbacks from various characters reveal secrets–a rape–and stressors–homophobia, bullying–that may happen in any high school setting. In a world where even primary and elementary school students have active shooter drills, This Is Where It Ends can help make sense of the incomprehensible without dehumanizing either the shooter or the injured.  Recommended for public, upper-middle and high school libraries.

March 2016 review by Jane Cothron.

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