- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Dial Books (May 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0803737394
- ISBN-13: 978-0803737396
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,133,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The End or Something Like That Hardcover – May 1, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—It is the one-year anniversary of her best friend Kim's death, and Emmy is still reeling from the loss. Emmy made a promise to Kim that, once she died, Emmy would contact her ghost, but as it turns out, "I suck at talking to dead people." When Emmy attends the funeral of her science teacher, however, she is shocked to be visited by Ms. Homeyer's spirit. If she can see Ms. Homeyer's ghost, why hasn't she been able to see Kim? As Emmy sees more and more dead people—everyone but Kim—she begins to explore her complicated emotions and relationships. Told in parallel time lines, Emmy describes the months leading up to Kim's death, including a major betrayal and strong skepticism about the possibility of an afterlife; she also tells her story in real time, one year after Kim's death. For a significant portion of the story, Emmy is not an easy character to love; she's prickly, self-centered, and emotionally closed-off from those around her. As the story progresses, though, she opens herself up to others: her mother, her brother, and Skeeter, the sweet boy who has adored her all along. Just as she did in This Is What I Did (Little, Brown, 2007), Ellis skillfully captures what it's like to be a kid who flies beneath the radar and is afraid to speak up. The story's ending, though too-quickly resolved, is still lovely; readers will realize that it's not about trying to find a ghost. It's about trying to find oneself.—Laura Lutz, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City
Fragile, insecure Emmy has been in a free fall since her best friend Kim’s death from a congenital heart defect. Not that Kim was sickly or spent her life in hospitals; she was, rather, a lively, fun type who lit up Emmy’s life. Quirky, adventurous Kim even investigated a huckster’s program that promises the terminally ill the ability to set up a visitation path and come back after death. The story hurtles through the one-year anniversary of Kim’s death, as Emmy desperately plans and hopes for that visitation. Interspersed between the real-time chapters of the anniversary day are flashback chapters from when Kim was alive, enabling the reader to savor the full context of the girls’ friendship. Meanwhile, Emmy sees other deceased folks in her quest to find the returning Kim—or does she imagine them? The sudden death of a science teacher at school errs on the crude side in its depiction, but the choppy, edgy tone of Ellis’ dialogue illuminates Emmy’s longing for her old friend. She practically burns with intensity, even as she gradually begins to move on. Grades 6-9. --Anne OMalley
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Emmy and Kim have been inseparable since they were little. So when Kim finds out that her heart is not doing so well, she thinks that their closeness would be a constant, even in death. In the year before her death, Kim meticulously and obsessively plans with Emmy how they’re going to talk to each other after Kim’s death. But in the year following Kim’s death, Emmy hasn’t talked to her at all. Instead, ghosts of people she never wanted or thought she’d see visit her: her dead teacher, a boy from school, Kim’s dead uncle. Told in alternating chapters of the year before and the year after Kim’s death, THE END OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT is extremely endearing. I was a little nervous about reading yet another novel about grief and death, but there was something quirky about a story about two young girls who try to plan out their otherworldly communication when one passes away.
Ann Dee Ellis writes about grief and death from the point-of-view of a very honest and interesting character. Emmy is impossible not to fall in love with --- her perspective and voice draw you in and you can’t help but feel for her. She’s unsure of herself and I love that she doesn’t have everything figured out. Because she spent most of the year following Kim’s death trying to communicate with her dead best friend, she became even more lonely and more of an outcast than before. Even though she’s ostracized in school, her parents don’t understand her and she has no friends since Kim died, she remains faithful and loyal to the plans that she and Kim made to try to talk. She lugs a bag of Kim’s favorite stuff and reads a book by a fake spiritual coach to try to facilitate their ghostly contact. Even though her attempts fail, there is a level of humor that is balanced throughout the book. The whole thing is absurd, and Emmy realizes it and comments on it quite often. How is that she can talk to dead people she didn’t even know but she can’t talk to the one person she needs to hear from most in the world?
While reading this, I was reminded of the book by Libba Bray GOING BOVINE, which deals with death but in a really hysterical and offbeat way (the main character is dying of Mad Cow’s disease and goes on a road trip with a hypochondriac, an angel and a garden gnome to cure it). If I had to read another novel about dying and grieving, I’m glad it was this. Ann Dee Ellis confronted readers with the truth of losing someone but did it in a way that makes you laugh until you cry. The book is extremely present; it’s brimming with pop-culture references that just fit it perfectly.
Also, for a 350-page novel, it moved remarkably fast. Almost too fast, sometimes. I don’t want to spoil too much but there are certain things that sneak up on you in the novel that I wish had more time to see established. There were certain characters that could have also used more page time. For example, Skeeter and Baylor Hicks, two boys that kind of snuck up on Emmy and the reader, could have used a few more lines dedicated to them so that they felt more involved. Also, I wish we had gotten more interactions between Emmy and the ghosts. Like I said, there was a certain level of absurdity that I think could have been spread out a bit. Emmy’s reactions to her dead teacher and the other ghosts she saw were golden, and I really would have liked to see more of it. Similarly the reveals of certain things felt a bit rushed. Ann Dee Ellis connects things from the year before Kim’s death and the year after in a way that seems too fast. If you weren’t paying attention, you might miss their significance. However, despite my misgivings, I loved the closure we got at the end. I think it was a fantastic way to end the novel and one that felt satisfying for Emmy’s (and Kim’s) journey.
This novel could have been overly sentimental but it wasn’t. The short chapters and young tone allowed for a particularly fun read about a subject that definitely isn’t fun. I came away loving it and was so happy that the title attracted me in the first place.
Reviewed by Brianna Robinson
"The End or Something Like That" is a book about a teen girl (Emmy) missing her dead best friend (Kim) on her death anniversary and trying to say good-bye to her, but she starts seeing other dead people besides Kim. It's a funny book and very sentimental in a way that only a jaded teen girl can get away with. I knew from the moment Emmy introduced her friend Skeeter as the kid who had to go to the E.R. because he ate carpet that I would be reading the book in one sitting.
The tears started leaking when Emmy's brother started crying. It was an off and on thing, and the ending itself did not leave me crying. Then I read the last line of the acknowledgements, and I just lost it completely.
I've been missing someone for a few days, and I think this book was sweet and comforting to read. It's not a perfect book. The book is rather stylistic, such as the first several chapters only being one sentence. I was almost turned off by it, but I pushed through having nothing else immediately available to read. The message of the ending was also not quite the message I wanted to receive as a reader, but I'd be a real idiot if I didn't give five stars to a book with acknowledgements that made me cry because all the characters had been written so simply and honest.