this is where it ends

This is where it ends book cover (photo courtesy of Barnes and Nobles).

This is where it ends book cover (photo courtesy of Barnes and Nobles).

As a reader who only ever reads fantasy novels, “this is where it ends” by Marieke Nijkamp was an unfamiliar genre. However, while classified as fiction, it still tackles topics that hit home for many teenagers. From bullying to sexual assault to school shootings, the book isn’t easy to get through; trigger warnings should be checked before starting the book.

School shootings have recently become a significant issue for many students and teachers nationwide. It’s hard to picture the horror and fear that the many victims have suffered from, but “this is where it ends” provides the reader with detailed accounts into the point of views of people who are both caught in the crossfire as well as people who were able to escape. 

While it might seem crass of Nijkamp to write a novel about an experience she’s never dealt with, I believe the novel’s purpose is essential nonetheless. It forces readers to take a moment and analyze their actions and how they treat other people. It provides insight into other people’s trauma and suffering. Throughout the course of the novel, it became blatantly clear to me that even out of the seven billion people on this planet, no one leads the same life. Other people carry burdens that we could never understand from just one glance or in a passing moment. 

Nijkamp also highlights the pain and loss of family and friends very clearly. Having characters who were out of harm’s way but had loved ones who were still trapped added an element that many people don’t often think about. When I think of school shootings, my first instinct is always to mourn those who passed away and those who were trapped inside. Like many, I rarely take a second to consider all of the parents, siblings, and friends who have to anxiously await news regarding their loved ones. In those moments, minutes can begin to feel like hours as anxiety and fear continue to build their way up. 

While it’s easy to research school shootings and learn from first-hand accounts, describing the terror is not a simple task. Yet, it’s a task that Nijkamp has done well. Through developing each character’s stories and gradually revealing the relationships between every character, Nijkamp paints an image of horror that kept me captivated all the way through. In fact, I was so captivated that I read the entire novel in one sitting. And of course, the pages of the book were stained… by my tears. It would be an understatement to say that I shed a few tears as I spent the last half of the book a sniffling mess. 

The novel’s contents shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering it’s quite literally titled “this is where it ends,” but the emotions that came with reading the book were still unexpected. The closer I felt to the characters, the more I knew it would hurt when the plot reached its resolution. And while I despise that feeling of impending doom, that was what ultimately made this book so hard to put down… and impossible to forget.