In case you are not aware of it, there are dozens of novels out there in the world about missing children. And I think I read most of them. They used to make me mad, because they were so inaccurate. The first I ever read was “The Deep End of the Ocean.” I loved the title, but I was really pretty offended by the inaccuracies. Perhaps it would seem crass for an author to do research on this, which would best be done by interviewing families of the missing, but it just seemed … well, I guess I felt as though they were writing about my life, and they were doing it wrong.
I’ve become a little less sensitive to these things over the years since then, but I just finished one book that will always remain on my list of the worst books ever. It is called “The End of Everything.” The cover says it was written by a woman called Megan Abbott, but I find that hard to believe. I think it must have been written by a middle-aged male pedophile. And if you are at all contemplating reading this piece of trash, this is your SPOILER ALERT right here.
This book is about a 13-year old girl, Evie, who goes missing, and it is told from the point of view of her 13-year old best friend and neighbor, Lizzie. I actually listened to the audiobook of this, which undoubtedly made it much worse as the narrator read the 13-year old’s voice like she was a simpering, preschool drama queen. I listen to audiobooks every single day, and I’ve gotten used to the imperfections of narrators, but this one was particularly awful, particularly combined with the content. About half the book is spent focusing on Lizzie’s sexual and romantic fantasies about Evie’s dad. There is also a lovely discussion by this 13-year old girl about a snuff film she’d seen or heard about (can’t remember which) in which a nine-year old girl was raped by 20 adult men in a row and then killed on camera, and it was just as well, they said, that she was killed because of the condition she was in after being raped by 20 adult men. I was listening to this on my way home from work, just as I was pulling up in front of the house. I suppose you won’t be shocked to learn that I came into the house and burst into sobs.
Early on in the book they figure out who took the girl. It was a man from the neighborhood, who used to stand in Evie’s yard at night and watch her through her bedroom window. She’d sort of mentioned this to Lizzie without being really specific, showing her cigarette butts in the yard, saying that “sometimes he is down here at night,” without saying who, and noting a car that kept driving by slowly, so that afterwards Lizzie is able to help the police add 2 and 2. And the missing girl does come home. There is talk about how torn up she was from having been raped by this man for three weeks. It’s not completely graphic, and yet prurient somehow.
The topper comes when Evie finally confides all in Lizzy. She hadn’t been kidnapped after all. She gone willingly with this man, because she had enjoyed his attention. She had not only gone with him willingly, but she had given herself to him willingly, and even when her insides were coming out in the aftermath, she said it was okay, and kept saying it was okay and offering it to him. She said she knew nobody in her life would ever love her the way this man loved her.
Honestly, if it had been one single character in this book that had this sick sexual attraction to a middle aged man, that might have been one thing, but this book seems to indicate that it’s the norm. It seems to indicate that the “love” these dirty old men feel for the young girls is some sort of a blessing. And again, perhaps if the book said this once in passing, or intimated it … well, even then I don’t think it would be easy to take, but this is laid on thick, shoved down your throat on every page.
This is a disgusting, disturbing book. And on behalf of all victims of pedophiles in all forms, I can only say to Megan Abbott, you should be ashamed of yourself.
And to everyone else, please don’t go out and get this book in order to see what I am talking about. Nobody deserves to profit from this sort of thing.