This is Where it Ends By Marieke Nijkamp
“Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun.”
This is Where it Ends follows the life changing 54 minutes of four students at Opportunity High in Opportunity, Alabama: Sylvia,the brains of Opportunity with there eyes set on the Ivy’s, Tomas, the mischievous mastermind, Claire, the track star pulled between her family and her future, and Autumn, the dancer at the center of it all.
On the first day of the winter semester tragedy strikes as a former student opens fire on the school auditorium following the the principal’s “welcome back” speech. Not only is the shooter now amongst them, but he has barricaded them in with no way to escape. What these four don’t realize is that they are all about lose everything at the hand of someone they all know so well during the longest 54 minutes of their lives.
If you are not prepared to read this book in one sitting, I suggest you don’t pick it up until you can. Marieke Nijkanp brilliantly places the reader into Opportunity High at its lowest point, making them feel every emotion and crumble with the sounding of every shot. The emotions portrayed by Sylvia, Autumn, Tomas, and Claire penetrate deep into the audience; every tear, fear, and heartbreak. They are relatable yet generic, they are each their own person yet they are all of us. What makes Nijkanp’s book so compelling is the idea that this situation, this trauma could have happened, or may happen, to any of us. Opportunity High could be your high school, mine, or the school in the next town over. The shooter could be your best friend, your teacher, or the most “popular” kid in school. Nijkamp makes it clear that it is not always the “quiet” ones who are bullied, picked last, or put down, but that anyone can break during dark times.
Overall, Marieke Nijkanp tells a captivating story of loss and tragedy that is not lacking an emotional sucker punch. Each chapter spans about two minutes of the 54 and each includes the perspective of the four main students. With the passing of each minute there is yet another question waiting to be answered leading to a fast-paced read that, before you know it, you haven’t moved from the couch and are already closing the back cover. Thankfully Nijkamp leaves out most of the gore found in other mass-shooting novels and tends to focus most on those living the nightmare, not those who fell victim. But, don’t get me wrong, this novel is not for the faint of heart.
To Buy the Book: Amazon