Friday, July 10, 2015

Review: WHAT ENDS, by Andrew Ladd

What Ends, by Andrew Ladd. Published 2014 by New Issues, Western Michigan University. Literary Fiction.

It took me a few weeks to get through What Ends, not because it's particularly long or a particular slog, but just because it was the kind of book to enjoy in sips, like sipping wine. It's immersing and mellow, with smooth, beautiful writing and characters to savor as they grow and change.

Set in the 1980s on a fictional Hebrides island called Eilean Fior, What Ends tells of the McCloud family- parents George and Maureen, and children Barry, Flora and Trevor. The book opens with Trevor's birth, Trevor who will be the last child born on this tiny rock off of Scotland. George and Maureen run a guest house; Barry is the oldest child, and he goes away to school and never really comes back; Flora sticks around a little longer but her dreams take her away eventually too. So it falls to Trevor to watch the end of this way of life.

Different sections of the book tell the family's story from different points of view and the book ends with George, in a small chapter that is as terrifying as it is transcendent. I don't remember where I heard about What Ends- I probably just picked it up off a shelf somewhere- but I'm so glad I found it and it will almost certainly show up in my favorites this year. I've recommended to a few people already and just wish I could staff-pick it and handsell it like crazy as a bookseller, because it's one of those books that will really reward the right readers who take a chance on it. It reminds me of Jetta Carleton's luminous Moonflower Vine, another book I had some success selling to my old customers. If you like books that combine a character-driven narrative with lovely writing, I urge you to seek it out at your local independent bookstore.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.