This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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At 10am, the students of Opportunity High School are wrapping up their morning assembly. As they start to head back to classes, they find the doors to the auditorium locked. No one can leave. At 10:05am, the first gunshots ring out.

This is Where it Ends is a really powerful book about a school shooting. I read it in less than a day. It’s told over the span of 54 minutes, and rotates point of views among a number of characters, all who have some connection to the shooter. One is his sister, another is an ex girlfriend, and another is his enemy, etc.

I don’t want to go into too much more detail regarding the book because I feel like it would take away from the the emotion you’ll feel if you read it. What I will say, is that I was really moved by the book, and definitely cried at one point. There are tweets and texts interspersed between chapters, and I really felt the desperation of the characters, especially the ones who were trapped in the auditorium. I can’t imagine how terrifying that would be.

Aside from the obviously heavy content, if you’re looking for a book about the mental illness or psychology that would lead someone to commit a mass shooting, this is not the book for you. The book has no chapters told from the shooters POV and doesn’t do a great job on elaborating on his motives. It sort of talks about how he used to be a kind person, and then something bad happened in his life, and now here he is, with a gun in his school. I do feel like there could have been more explanation of that middle piece – the book said even said it itself; lots of people have bad things happen to them, but most of them don’t go out and commit mass murder.

That said, I did really like the book, and was heartbroken so many times reading their emotions as the events before them played out. I’d recommend this book for someone who doesn’t mind reading something with a heavy subject, but who also isn’t looking to delve deeply into the motives of the antagonist – it’s sort of “good vs. evil” in that regard, which can be off-putting for someone who doesn’t like reading books about characters who aren’t super developed.

 

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