It’s the End of the World as I Know It

Dial. Sept. 2019. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780735228016.
Gr 5-8–While 13-year-old Derrick’s friends are becoming middle school hall monitors and trying out for soccer, Derrick (known as “Dee”) is busy buying gas masks on the internet and building an emergency shelter in his backyard. He follows a blog called “Apocalypse Soon!” and is convinced that in 19 days, when a total solar eclipse aligns with the 600,000-year anniversary of the eruption of the volcano under Yosemite, the world as he knows it will come to an end. What Dee has trouble acknowledging is that his world already ended once—his mother, who was in the Air Force, died the year before. Evidence of life’s continuation, such as his father dating “Internet women,” is too painful for Dee to acknowledge. His anxiety about the upcoming apocalypse results in severe panic attacks, and the only person who seems to understand is neighbor Misty, who almost died prior to receiving a kidney transplant and whose struggle to cram meaning into every moment of her new life leaves her exhausted. Unnervingly, Misty often references events from a “before” that Dee can’t remember—but the closer he gets to remembering, the less he wants to. This title explores anxiety in the aftermath of grief and trauma with nuance and honesty. The dialogue is humorous and exceptionally realistic to the age group. Short chapters make for a quick, engaging read. Emotional arcs of supporting characters are rich and detailed.
VERDICT Simultaneously funny, quirky, and raw, this emotionally impactful look at loss is sure to find a wide audience. Recommended for all collections.

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