This is where it ends is a wonderful book by Marieke Nijkamp. It has so much depth to it and yet is approachable and relatable at the same time. The way that the characters in this book have so many different stories and issues going on with their life, it feels genuine. Instead of having just a couple of characters who have difficulties in their life, from domestic abuse to disability and illness, and making them out to be ‘special’ cases, everyone we meet has something going on behind the scenes that they do not display to the public. I think that this is a more realistic reflection on today’s world and I think it strengthens the story to have it this way.
While it is not surprising that a book about a school shooting deals with some uncomfortable truths that are often unpleasant to hear, this book also explores domestic abuse, sexual assault and the effect that disability and illness can have those who live with it and those around them. By their very nature, this book contains material that may be distressing to younger people to read, so this book has been given an age rating of 14-years plus. Whilst this is the minimum age to enter high school in America (where the book is set) I do feel that this age rating should not be there. In today’s world children of all ages are vulnerable to attacks in school as well as suffering from the harsh realities of life that are presented in this book.
Whilst I understand the need to protect our innocent from the cruel world that we live in, many thousands of children are not protected in their own lives. I think that age restrictions on books should not exist, a target demographic yes but nothing as prescribed as the ‘Ages 14 and up’ printed on the dustjacket. I suggest that a content warning is used instead so that readers and their guardians can choose what content they want to read about. This not only accepts the reality that children are more aware of what is going on in the world but also allows those who for whatever reason do not wish to read about such things to not do so.
As for the rest of the book, it is definitely worth a read as it is both thought-provoking and gripping. The characters are incredibly real, and you can imagine that this was a true story.