Jamie Kain’s Instructions for the End of the World might bring up your abandonment issues, but it is a contemplative YA contemporary

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Jamie Kain’s Instructions for the End of the World might bring up your abandonment issues, but it is a contemplative YA contemporary

When I was four, I experienced one of the most traumatic experiences of my life – watching Bambi’s mom get shot on the big screen.  I had to be removed from the theater because my inconsolable crying was upsetting everyone.  That moment has haunted me since.  I seriously had a reoccurring dream of losing my mother for the next ten years (she, on the other hand, dreamed repeatedly about not being able to find her car).  When I realized that the premise for this book is every nightmare I ever had about abandonment by my mom, I wasn’t really sure I was going to be all in.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but that turned out to be a good thing.

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Goodreads Summary

From the author of The Good Sister comes a gripping novel about two sisters who learn that there are things in life—love, loss, and self-discovery—that you simply can’t prepare for.

He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man—except for the one that struck.

When Nicole Reed’s father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it’s too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole’s father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow’s disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?

Instructions for the End of the World is a gripping, young adult novel that explores family, friendship, and love in the midst of the most difficult and dangerous circumstances.

My Thoughts

This was a fairly introspective book and, while I thought it would be plot driven, it is a character driven narrative from four different perspectives.  All four of the narrative voices have experienced some form of abandonment by their parents, and I thought it was a rather fascinating study on how a similar situation can have very different impacts.   I quickly connected with Nicole and her attempts to be a good daughter, even when it means living in the crappiest situation ever.  I had varying degrees of interest in the other characters, but they all experienced growth and had a unique and identifiable voice.  There is some romance – some good and some disappointing, but I felt like the relationships between characters overall were more important than just the love story.   I was happy with the way Nicole and her sister developed a better relationship, and it was pretty happy with the resolution because it felt realistic.  While this isn’t a plot driven story, it was well paced and instead of letting povs overlap, they worked more like puzzle pieces.  Some characters knew things the others didn’t, and that created a little dramatic irony and suspense. Overall, I thought it was a thoughtful and compelling read.  I think it might not be to everyone’s taste, but if you enjoy characters as much as plot, you should give this a shot.  Language and situations are appropriate for high school students.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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