by Autumn Bippert
Many see the effects of mass shootings. But only those who live through them know what it is like to experience the horror that has occurred in front of them.
“This is Where it Ends,” written by Markeke Nijkamp, tells the story of a school shooting from four different points of view of those who experienced the atrocity. This emotional story is told by characters Claire, Toḿas, Autumn and Sylv during the course of 54 minutes.
The book was #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list, on the National Indie bestsellers list, and several other acclaimed listings.
The book begins with the normal everyday mornings of students in the small town of Opportunity, Alabama, the setting for the story. The principal of Opportunity High School calls a beginning-of-term assembly, which gathers the entire school into the auditorium.
“10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity 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. 10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open. 10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.”
A gunman, outcast Tyler Browne, uses the occasion to lock the auditorium doors from the outside, using the room as a personal “shooting range” to settle his scores with his classmates.
Autumn, Tyler’s younger sister, wants to leave Opportunity, Alabama, and follow in her mother’s footsteps of dancing around the world. She also wants to be far away from her abusive father. She wants her girlfriend Sylvia, or Sylv, to come with her, but she’s torn between her dreams of the future with Autumn and the need to stay behind and care for her sick mother.
Tomás, Sylv’s twin brother, is the school prankster, which is why he isn’t in the auditorium for the assembly. He is sneaking around the school instead.
Claire, Tyler’s ex-girlfriend, has a last-minute track practice in the morning. She and her teammates are running outside in the cold January air when the first shots are fired. Claire and Tomás decide to help their trapped friends and family, even if it puts their own lives in danger.
The author uses the four characters to tell the emotions from different perspectives – the family of the shooter, those who used to be close to them, someone from the other side desperate for their loved ones to be safe, and a first-hand witness. There are many secondary characters involved as well, which gives a truer feeling to the story. There are many students at a high school and many people who are affected by mass shootings. Telling the story as only happening to one person wouldn’t be an accurate account.
“This is Where it Ends” is an emotional narrative that pulls the reader into the pages. This story is more than fiction. It is reality, a reality that many have been affected by.
This book draws attention to a major problem in our society that seems to be continually overlooked. With so many mass shootings, it has become the norm to see a story on the news and then forget about it the next day. This book put people in the shoes of students who experience this every month and tells the untold effects of school violence. Hopefully it will help increase awareness, helping prevent more mass shootings at schools.
This is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. It is sad and terrifying, yet somehow inspirational and relatable. “This is Where it Ends” is more than action and horror.
I truly could not put down this book until I was done reading it. I give “This is Where it Ends” a 10 out of 10.