Dec 012015

Cover for This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp. Five brightly colored pieces of chalk explode in front of a chalkboard as they are hit with a bullet.Booklist: Nijkamp’s debut adds to the growing list of novels about school shootings. As Opportunity, Alabama, high-schoolers are welcomed in for a new school year, an armed male student locks the student body inside the auditorium, and then the carnage begins. The subsequent 54 minutes unfold with breathless pacing in the alternating voices of characters who know the shooter: Claire, the track star and former girlfriend of the shooter, who’s outside when the shooting begins. Tomás, a troublemaker who rises to the occasion. Autumn, a promising dancer and the shooter’s sister. Sylv, a straight-A student, who is Autumn’s closeted girlfriend and Tomás’ twin sister. Although the shooter’s motivation could have been more developed and the slow response times of authorities require a suspension of disbelief, Nijkamp’s story sadly reflects a very real concern in contemporary America. Strong characterizations capture diversity in gender, race, ability, and sexuality. Even reluctant readers will anxiously pursue the ending, unable to turn away from the tragedy and in desperate hope for a resolution, knowing there cannot be a happy ending.