The End or Something Like That
Ann Dee Ellis
Scholastic, 2014 346 pgs
A two-part narration traces the experiences of Emmy as she looses her best friend Kim to a rare heart condition and then spends a year grieving. Chapters alternate between the final days of Kim's life and the present as Kim nears the one year anniversary of her death. Kim knows she is dying and struggles to come up with a plan to still communicate with Emmy, all while hiding her condition from all the other kids at school and trying to have a normal life. Kim's quest brings the girls to a seminar in their hometown of Los Vegas. Dr. Ted claims he can help people to communicate beyond the boundaries of death and Kim is desperate to believe it. Now Emmy must try to follow Kim's plan all while dealing with the guilt and loneliness of being left behind. At first Emmy thinks she has succeeded. She starts seeing dead people, beginning with her recently deceased science teacher, but they aren't the right dead people. They aren't Kim. Finally the one year anniversary of Kim's death approaches, the time when Dr. Ted claims is the best time to reach out. Someone is sitting at their designated meeting place. Is it Kim?
Ellis offers one of the latest in the genre I refer to as "dead girl fiction", which is widely popular right now. For a slightly younger audience than Fault in Our Stars or If I Stay, The End or Something Like That will have a ready-made audience. I liked the alternating chapters/time periods. They were in different fonts, helping to keep the reader from becoming confused. Through this vehicle Ellis is able to slowly reveal the death of Kim and the cause behind Emmy's lingering guilt and trauma. As Emmy struggles through grief and attempts to communicate with Kim she talks to other dead people. Ellis leaves it to the reader to decide if that has really happened or if its part of Emmy's grief-stricken imagination. The book is dialog heavy with wide margins and reads quickly, making it a great suggestion for reluctant readers. Girls will be drown to this book more than boys, but it can be enjoyed by both. There is a little innocent romance and teenage themes, but nothing inappropriate or outrageous, making it a perfect choice for young readers not quite ready for Fault in Our Stars. Every summer I give my two kids three books to read and in return they give me a book that they read over the past year that they want me to read. This was the selection chosen by my thirteen year old. She loved this book and couldn't wait to share it and talk about it. That, right there, shows that it has young teen appeal and will be enjoyed by readers. I owned a dog-eared copy of Go Ask Alice as a teenager and read it so many times I lost count, and cried every time. Dead girl fiction has been around a long time. Teenagers (girls especially) love a sad story. Ellis offers them a sad story with a hopeful ending with Emmy finally finding some happiness, confident, and peace.