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“Writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear”

thinking of ending things

 

This is a difficult novel to review without spoiling it but I’ll give it the old college try. An unnamed narrator is driving with her boyfriend Jake to visit his parents in their isolated home in the country. If the title wasn’t enough of a clue, the narrator tells us in the first line of the book that she’s thinking of ending things. As their journey continues, the narrator becomes continually more unsettled Jake and his parents behavior until Jake seems to abandon her at a deserted high school while a snowstorm rages outside. The narrator’s journey through the empty school leads to a surprising conclusion that made me want to immediately flip back to the first page to reanalyze everything I’d just read.

This book immediately puts you on the back foot with the opening line. You are stuck in this car on an isolated road with this couple knowing that one of them wants to end the relationship. The unease builds until they arrive at Jake’s parents’ home at which point it became deeply uncomfortable just to read. By the time the narrator is abandoned at the high school, you know something is very wrong with this entire situation but you might not be sure just what it is. I say might because many other people who read this book apparently figured out the situation from the beginning. I remained ignorant until the climax of the book but I don’t believe the narrative would suffer if you figure it out in advance. This book is an examination of isolation and loneliness that stayed with me long after I’d finished.

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