Synopsis: Abigail’s parents have made mistake after mistake, and now they’ve lost everything. She’s left to 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 doesn’t know how her dad found Brother John. Maybe it was the billboards. Or the radio. What she does know is that he never should have made that first donation. Or the next, or the next. Her parents 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 with Brother John for the “end of the world.” Because of course the end didn’t come. And now they’re living in their van. And Aaron’s 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, literary debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.
Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!
This book was so difficult to read at times. It actually made me physically angry too. See, I once dated this boy who’s family was SUPER religious. And the boy acted like he wasn’t but then about two months into our relationship he told me about how I wasn’t going to go to Heaven unless I let Jesus into my heart and repented and he sobbed to me that I needed to do it or he wouldn’t see me in Heaven and that he couldn’t stand it. He also said that he didn’t like to kiss me because he didn’t want God to see him and that he’d always have to pray afterwards… so we broke up and he was like ‘let’s still go to youth group together!’ and I was like ‘uh, no, Jesus isn’t really my thing…’ and then I found out that he would go smoke pot after church with his friends and I was just done.
I respect people who are religious. Everyone has the right to their own beliefs, but I’ve found that more often than not those religious people don’t respect the right to not believe. Or to believe something different. And those are the people I have a problem with. So Brother John and the father in this book just made me want to kick things.
In this book Abigail and her family sell all of their worldly possessions and travel across the USA to join Brother John who’s basically a scam artist peddling the end of the world for those who will believe. Abigail’s father lost his job and found Jesus and it was just so sad how he was so blind and naive. He truly believed that the end of the world was coming and that his family didn’t need anything anymore.
But then the end of the world didn’t come. And Abigail’s brother began to not believe. He turned his back on God and got angry. I totally understood him. Abigail took a bit longer to come around, and it was so hard seeing her torn between knowing what was right and what was faith. But did God really want her family homeless? Living out of a van? Eating leftovers from the soup kitchen? Did God want that for them? Her brother knew the answer, but Abigail loved her family and I think she wanted to believe that her mother and father would do the right thing eventually. She had faith in them. And I liked that about her, but man when that dick Brother John would take their money (that they were getting from ANOTHER church because their family had NOTHING) and spout out some crap about ‘God’s plan’… I just got so mad and wanted her to get mad too.
The end really got me. I wish that the father would have been a little more dramatic, and I would have loved to see him admit that he was wrong or at least that Brother John was a sham, but we didn’t get to see that. Maybe that wasn’t the point. I was just happy that family won in the end.
Overall this was really good and makes you think about your place in the world and what you believe in. But if you’re really religious you might want to avoid it. Maybe. Not that this is an anti-religion book, it’s not, it just might not resonate the same way it might with someone who doesn’t have super strong religious beliefs.