ARC Review: This Is Where It Ends-Marieke Nijkamp


syn10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won’t open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

review3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Sourcebooks Fire

Contains triggers: School shooting, abuse, assault, sexual assault, violence. 


  • I’m not sure if it was the author’s intention but I actually felt bad for the shooter. His sister is self-absorbed and dealing with her own issues. She left him to flail. The pressure from the community to conform. The dislike from his peers, the literal beatings from some characters who were meant to be seen as heroes. The glimpses into his past from the other POVs show a hidden depth and softness that was corrupted by loss, grief, and misunderstanding. 
  • Diversity was all over the place. From tragic car accidents to Alzheimer’s to lupus to different ethnicities and lesbian characters, there’s a huge range and they don’t feel like “token” diverse characters. I appreciated that. So many times I’ve read books where it feels like characters have no function beyond the diversity in the book and each character functions as a regular teen with issues like anyone else. 
  • That last 10% nearly gutted me. OH MY GOD. The feels between siblings were heartbreaking and like a hard slap in the face. All the things we miss when we are so focused on the general drama in our lives. 


  • Logistically, some of the particulars were a little off and didn’t align with the culprit. The shooter is eagle-eyed, perceptive, and a skilled sharpshooter. His motives are clearly planned and he has targets in mind. This act is not random. Somewhere in the middle of the book, this all goes haywire and an escape plan is hatched. It floored me how easily students were able to sneak when in the beginning, every little moment was caught and punished. 
  • The story is told from more than 4 POVs, unlike what it says in the synopsis. There are blog posts and tweets (these were particularly confusing and hopefully the formatting is improved from the ARC version). The main characters relate events like you’re supposed to know their back stories. At first, I felt bombarded with information and it was hard to keep things straight. There are so many little details inserted offhandedly that it’s too easy to forget. At the halfway point, everything starts to fall in place and there are reminders of subtle, underlying issues like lupus or Alzheimer’s . 
  • It might have been the numerous POVs (doubtful) or the interpretation of the shooter but for the majority, I’d say 90% of the book, I felt barely a spark for any of the characters. Each character’s section was too short and flipped quickly to another. Just when you’d start to feel something it was on to another. 
  • For a book that is told in real-time and spans less than an hour it felt surprisingly slow. The terror wasn’t potent or as devastating because it kept moving from character to character and their life stories-flashbacks. 

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Review: And We Stay-Jenny Hubbard


cooltext1889161239 copySenior Paul Wagoner walks into his school with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend, Emily Beam, and then takes his own life. Soon after, angry and guilt-ridden Emily is sent to a boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where two quirky fellow students and the spirit of Emily Dickinson offer helping hands. But it is up to Emily Beam to heal her own damaged self, to find the good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.

cooltext1889171582 copy3.5/5 Stars

Trigger Warning: Deals with heavy themes like abortion, suicide, and hostel situations.

And We Stay is an emotional journey into recovery and forgiveness that reads like an eulogy and bleeds out poetry. It’s raw, poignant, and heart-wrenching. The poetry is astounding and in some ways channels Emily Dickinson herself. 


  • The poetry is timeless. It’s full of agony and inspiration, beauty and quiet tragedy, the death of the soul, reincarnation of self. Gripping, powerful, there are some that are simply written and thought-provoking and others that have so many components you could analyze and discover something new each time. 
  • Emily and Emily Dickinson are soul sisters. They parallel one another, in many ways they’re the same but diverge in leaps and bounds. There’s a particular scene that very well might have changed my life, as cliche as that sounds. When Emily sits in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom and stares at her desk. She evaluates her life, her choices, and what could have been different and she thinks about the fragility of life, the wounds we cause ourselves and those that come no matter what we do to save ourselves. This was my favorite: 
    • “So if she sits at a desk, scrawls words on paper, are the words as lonely as she, or do they sow seeds into a soul across time, across centuries? Was Emily Dickinson ever able to thread the words together in such a way that she was beyond the need for stitches?”
  • And We Stay deals with important and tragic themes like school shootings, suicide, depression, and abortion. The poems are dynamite. They compile all the emotions of these incidents in precise, short poems. They make you think and feel more so than the scenes of the events themselves. 


  • I struggled with how to rate this book. In some ways, it was a five-star read, in others it was a solid three. The story, which is supplemented by the poetry, is moving but the way it’s presented lacked the emotional pull of the events themselves. The moments at Amherst were bland, dull, and forgettable. The secondary characters were average, expected, and didn’t hold your attention. They sort of flitted in and out like phantoms without substance. In some ways, the story would have been better had it only featured Emily and her kinship with Emily Dickinson. 
  • Emily doesn’t deal with her problems. Yes, she writes poetry and bleeds out into beautiful, hypnotizing words but it’s roundabout. The scenes with the shooting, at the abortion clinic, it’s like she numbed herself and brushed them off, as if to shrug and say, that’s the past no need to drudge it up. Her poetry says different. Emily is crying out, she wants to express her emotions but doesn’t have the courage yet. Through Emily Dickinson, Emily starts to accept that feeling, though painful, is a necessary evil, that it can be salvation. 

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Pleasant reading,

cooltext1754437870 copy