Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Publisher by: Sourcebooks Fire
Published on: January 5, 2016
Genres: Mature YA
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.
The auditorium doors won't open.
Someone starts shooting.
Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
I admit I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to books like these. They make me uncomfortable, they make me emotional, and they make me angry. This It Where It Ends, was phenomenal. This story not only broke my heart but hit my emotions and immediately griped my attention. Taking place over the course of 54 minutes, the story is told from four alternating POVs. Claire, Tomás, Sylv, and Autumn, are four very different students attending Opportunity High School but they each have a connection to the shooter.
Tyler Browne, dropped out of Opportunity High the end of the previous school year and he finally decides to re-enroll. On the day he returns the whole school is gathered in auditorium for the principal’s yearly assembly. It’s also the day he decides to come back with a gun and a plan for revenge against those he feels have hurt him.
Autumn is Ty’s sister. They lost their mother in a car accident just the year before. Since then Autumn and Tyler have endured their father’s drunken anger and abuse. They all tried to cope in different ways but none of them were healthy. Autumn blamed herself. The one thing that keeps her going and ties her to her mother’s memory is her love for dance. She loved it and but it was also her dream and her escape. To Ty he has no one left. That he’s losing everyone. Claire has broken up with him last fall. His sister wants to leave Opportunity and go to Julliard. He feels her girlfriend Sylv has corrupted her and take her away. Tomás only wants to protect his sister Sylv from Tyler’s fury.
This novel frighteningly honest and realistic. There were no excuses made for Tyler’s rage. Those that loved him still cared, even if they didn’t understand his reasons. I felt each characters pain and fear on a visceral level. There were moments where my heart just stopped and I silently cried at some scenes. No matter how many times I reminded myself this particular story was fiction, I knew that reality of school violence was not. I was scared for everyone in this story but I also admired strength and courage that each possessed.
Ms. Nijkamp wrote this story in a powerful but simple way. It didn’t have over the top theatrics, it was just raw and honest. From a LGBT heroine to multi-ethnic characters, I loved the diversity of the story. There is no perfect ending for this type story. As heartbreaking as this novel was, it also had a message of hope and courage. Yes this type of story is controversial but I feel it is something that should be read.