This is Where It Ends tells the fictional account of a school shooting. It’s written from four different points of view: Autumn, the shooter’s sister, Sylvia, Autumn’s girlfriend, Claire, the shooter’s ex-girlfriend, and Tomas, Sylvia’s brother.
The idea of multiple narrators is intriguing, but I did not think that the narrators’ voices stood out enough to warrant all of their narrations. The novel also revolves around this school shooting, an unfortunately relevant topic right now, but I don’t think it talked about this subject in a responsible way. What are readers supposed to take away from the story? What is Nijkamp trying to tell us about gun violence, about trauma, about human relationships? I honestly wasn’t able to tell. Because of that, I can’t help but wonder who the audience for this book is and what that audience is going to get from it other than a lot of descriptions of violence and unclear intentions.
One of the novel’s biggest issues had to do with the attempts at depicting diversity. Nijkamp is part of the organization We Need Diverse Books. And I absolutely agree with that: the world is diverse, and so shouldn’t our art be too? I appreciated that Nijkamp tried to write diverse characters (This is Where It Ends included characters in the LGBTQ community as well as Black and Hispanic characters, and a Muslim character) but I feel like they were diverse for the sake of being diverse. I didn’t feel like the characters were human as much as I felt like they were walking stereotypes. We didn’t see LGBTQ characters as anything other than their sexuality or Hispanic characters as anything other than their race. I would love to see diversity in books, but I think these elements of race and sexuality and religion need to be pieces of the characters identity and not their entire identity.
Book Cover Source: http://www.mariekenijkamp.com