I’ve been doing some secret Ninja Book Box reading, this time it was a coming-of-age novel by Jan Fortune – This is the End of the Story. Don’t fret, this book won’t be featured in your box but it’s a worthy contender for their book club!
From the back cover:
Belief is Cassie’s gift, so much so that she believes herself to be whoever those in her life tell her she is Cassie, Kat, Kitty, even, as Miriam insists, Casilda, an 11th century Muslim princess from Toledo. Cassie’s loyalty to Miriam’s extraordinary internal world survives a traumatic incident on a beach and a coming of age fraught with hostility, but is strained by an act of betrayal that propels her towards Liam, another person waiting to tell Cassie who she really is.
But Cassie may be more resourceful than either Miriam or Liam imagine. Caught in a labyrinth of friendship, hope and obligation, she must decide her own identity, and when she visits Toledo, tracking down the elusive Casilda, is this the end of the story?
A Quixotic coming of age novel exploring the ways we enter the fantasy lives of those we love, This is the End of the Story is the first in a trilogy of new novels from Cinnamon Press founding editor.
Well, this was certainly an interesting read, and after pondering it for a few days, I’m still not sure how I feel about it…
I really enjoyed the narration style, it’s non-linear – the chapter headings give you some direction but the story very much jumps back and forth, in the middle of the chapters, with very little guidance; there’s no speech marks used, yet you’re able to follow the story without any confusion. Set part in the 1970’s and part in the 1990’s, This is the End of the Story is a coming-of-age novel, knowing that, I think, gives it some structure in the sense that you know the direction these novels, as a genre, follow.
As you follow Cassie and Mirriam’s friendship, there are some enjoyable moments, it’s clear there’s a strong, almost to the point of unhealthy, bond between the girls. They were so close I was waiting for the friendship to combust. There’s no doubt Mirriam views the world through a unique set of eyes and expects Cassie to fit into her vision, without questioning it; simultaneously, Cassie is trying to find herself, so why not slot into what people think you are while you’re still searching for who you are?
However, something in this novel was missing for me and it left a huge gap – oddly, I can’t pinpoint exactly what but it just felt something was missing. It was sort of uncomfortable, if that was the author’s aim, to create this sort of dark uncertainty in the reader, then it was achieved and you could argue this book has aspects of a silent thriller. I think this feeling was created through the elements of unrealism amongst realism, blurring the lines between what we know and what we believe because after all belief is Cassie’s gift.
The blurb does state this is a “Quixotic coming of age novel” and that is a perfect description of this novel [after googling Quixotic and finding out it means extremely idealistic, unrealistic and impractical].
I need you all to read this book so we can discuss it – it would make a great book club read because I’m sure there will be people who love the narration style and are intrigued by the characters and there maybe others that cannot take the narration style and therefore struggle to get into the plot at all. All I know for now is, I’m undecided on my thoughts and through discussion, I may be able to uncover if this book is genius or not.
I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from the book:
“The unreason of the world is more insane than any fiction.”
*My thanks to Ninja Book Box for providing me with a copy of this book*
Ninja Book Box is a quarterly book box subscription specialising in books from independent publishers and gifts from small local businesses. More information about Ninja Book Box can be found at:
Facebook: Ninja Book Box