Review (Plus): This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Bookshelf Blurb: Four teenagers’ emotions, thoughts and actions over the course of a 54-minute school shooting. Engaging and dark.
The darkness creeping around the edges of This is Where It Ends leads to a much-questioned debate on high school shootings–who is the victim in the tragedy? The tagline, “Everyone has the right to fear the boy with the gun,” answers the question of who is the victim, but what does the boy with the gun leave behind? Answer: a gun, blood, death and unanswered questions. This is Where It Ends offers student perspectives of the moments surrounding the shooting while still not answering the fundamental question: why.
Author Marieke Nijkamp has developed four diverse characters found in a typical small-town high school. Opportunity High School is located in a, rural Alabama town where nothing ever happens. The most exciting thing to happen is to graduate and get the heck out. Nijkamp has allowed her readers to experience the high school shooting through the book’s characters. The pages turn as fast as the drama found within the school; why is this happening and when will it stop?
Fifty-four minutes of the first day of second semester is told in 288 pages by just four characters. The story, while told in first person point of view with flashbacks, allows the readers to understand how the characters lives have woven together to present day. The only view we are deprived of is that of our shooter: Tyler Browne.
After the school principal gives her well wishes to the students to have a good start to the new semester, she goes to open the doors to discover the gym is locked–and within the walls is a shooter. The principal is the first one hit as the bang reverberates through the halls and out to the track where the team is practicing.
It is scary. It is true to life. This could happen anywhere and to anyone. I appreciated getting to know our characters and the bonds of friendship they had with their friends and their families. I kept reading to find the answer to what was going on in the mind of a shooter, but fell short. I feel Nijkamp created the antagonist to be an open-ended character who could reside anywhere, and an unknown motive since most shooters are either killed or kills themselves prior to being caught.
This is a shocking tale of the terror found in the midst of a sleeper town. There is no rhyme or reason for the brutality, and this town will forever be shaped from this event moving forward.
In the Classroom:
This is not one I recommend for the classroom, but rather for the library shelf. It offers a fictional perspective of true events that have taken place in high schools across the United States. This book is one that can be offered to students to read who have questions about high school shootings or want to research high school shootings. This book leans more towards the history classroom than an English classroom due to its content.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (Sourcebooks Fire | 9781492622468 | January 5, 2016)