Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book Review: No Parking at the End Times

No Parking at the End Times
By: Bryan Bliss
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Release date: February 24, 2015
Genre: YA contemporary
272 pages
Source: hard copy kindly provided by publisher

This book is one that I probably would no have picked up on my own. I'm glad that it was sent to me for review, because I think I will be better able to relate to kids who are feeling out of control because their parents are making unhealthy choices.

The central character, Abigail, shares her observations as she travels with her parents and her twin brother in the family van toward whatever comes after the great moment of Salvation fails to come to pass. Her father has lead the family to a life without most material possessions, dependent on the kindness of others for food, because he's convinced that Brother John will lead them all to a better understanding of the Lord.

Abigail is, for lack of a better description, a good girl. She isn't the typical troubled teen main character; she is, contrarily, obedient and kind. She doesn't understand or agree with most of her father's decisions, but she follows her mother's lead and refrains from questioning or causing a fuss. The nature of her character is a double-edged blade. On one hand, I liked reading about a kid who loves her family and doesn't get into trouble. On the other hand, her complacency makes her less interesting and exciting than most characters we're used to in modern YA.

Abigail's twin brother Aaron acts as her foil in many ways. While she is obedient, he is rebellious in both thought and deed- though it's out of a sense of self-preservation. Most readers will probably more readily connect with Aaron. The story might have been stronger had it been told through his viewpoint, but of course that would have altered some key scenes.

It is genuinely refreshing to read about kids who spend the majority of their time with their parents. It is also a nice change of pace to read about kids whose difficulties are a result of the adults' poor decisions, rather than their own. There will be readers who connect to this story on this basis, and will be thankful that someone has finally told their story.


Abigail’s parents have made mistake after mistake, and now they've lost everything. She’s left to decide: Does she still believe in them? Or is it time to believe in herself? Fans of Sara Zarr, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell will connect with this moving debut.

Abigail doesn't know how her dad found Brother John. Maybe it was the billboards. Or the radio. What she does know is that he never should have made that first donation. Or the next, or the next. Her parents shouldn't have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there with Brother John for the "end of the world." Because of course the end didn't come. And now they're living in their van. And Aaron’s disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But maybe it’s too big a task for one teenage girl. Bryan Bliss’s thoughtful, literary debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.

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