Title: No Parking at the End Times
Author: Bryan Bliss
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: February 24, 2015
Picked this one up because two books on the recent releases shelf at Barnes and Noble had vans on the covers, so clearly it was a sign from the universe that I was meant to read both van books in one day. My brain doesn’t make sense sometimes, but I usually just go with it. (I’ll post my review of the other van-cover-book later this week!)
A summary from the HarperCollins website, of which Greenwillow is an imprint:
Abigail’s parents believed the world was going to end. And—of course—it didn’t. But they’ve lost everything anyway. And she must 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’s parents never should have made that first donation to that end-of-times preacher. Or the next, or the next. They 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 for the “end of the world.” Because now they’re living in their van. And Aaron is full of anger, 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 debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.
First of all, on a slightly unrelated note, name-dropping in book blurbs is actually my least favorite thing on this planet. Rainbow Rowell wrote a “moving” book, and if you liked that one, you’ll also like this one! No. Incorrect. Wrong. Just… stop.
Anyway. Continuing on.
Some things about this book were great – like the focus on family dynamics and the close relationship between Abigail and her brother as the emotional center of the novel. I don’t think the importance of familial love gets enough attention in YA literature. And the whole people-get-taken-by-basically-a-religious-cult-leader thing is becoming more prevalent in contemporary media lately, as seen in Vivian Apple at the End of the World (my review of which is here) and the new comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” on Netflix (which I absolutely loved). I don’t know what it says about our society that religious cults are becoming more of a talked-about issue, but… I do think the topic is intriguing.
But however interesting the premise, and however compelling the familial relationship between parents-children and sister-brother, I closed the book with a vague feeling of disappointment. First of all, nothing was really resolved by the end of the novel. It wasn’t even resolved in a this-isn’t-resolved way. It just kind of fake-happy-ended me. Happy endings don’t just happen like that, in a page and a half, with no reason and no hint as to the troubles that they’ll have to face in the future as a result of that ending.
Also, for a book that focuses on the hardships of this family after they become basically homeless and living in their van, it kind of… romanticizes? The idea of homelessness? Like, they sleep in the van, but the kids sneak out to do whatever, whenever they want. They hit up all the charity food lines, collect donations from churches, etc, and while Abigail does talk about how hard it is to eat spaghetti every day, and brush her teeth without a real sink, I don’t think the book hit the gritty realities I was hoping it would. I was left distinctly unsatisfied.
I much enjoyed the other van-cover-book, to be honest. Review of that one is forthcoming. But for No Parking at the End Times? Ehhhh.
3 out of 5 stars.