on May 18, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic
Reviewed by: Rebecca
In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z's small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds.
This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter's The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.
Motherhood is complex. Your body changes, your identity changes. THE END WE START FROM takes these overwhelming changes and throws in an apocalyptic event for good measure. The story starts as the unnamed narrator, with her husband and friends, prepares for a water birth. In the first few pages the prose is purple, drenched in metaphor rather than conveying the narrator’s frame of mind. It’s not until the narrator gives birth and goes to her in-laws that the story really starts.
As the flooding, rationing, and fear-mongering build, the narrator develops a stronger connection with her child and builds new personal relationships. While living in the refugee camps is hard, she’s able to find other women to befriend. The woman, who once joked about mommy groups, now finds comfort with other mothers. Though life is tough, THE END WE START FROM never loses hope and never strays into bleakness.
I wasn’t sure what to make of THE END WE START FROM. This uncertainty was worsened by the fact that the blurb calls it a novel. It’s not. It’s a novella formatted as poetry. The structure of the book may be the factor that turns readers away. There are chunks of text, interrupted by ample amount of whitespace. The writing is prosaic and beautiful. There’s a lot of personal truth buried in short sentences. But it’s not the novel that it claims to be.
Although I loved writing, the story, and the characters, the book still felt incomplete. It’s a story that should have been a long-form novel. It feels like the author is dipping toes into the water, testing out the audience before publishing a similar novel. THE END WE START FROM is an enjoyable option if you’re looking for a shorter story or if you want a hopeful take on the apocalypse. I’m definitely excited to see if THE END WE START FROM evolves.Series Titles: