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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Coming of Age at the End of Days

ISBN: 9780802121653

Publisher: Grove Atlantic

Publication Date: 8/4/2015

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars

Alice LaPlante's acclaimed psychological thrillers are distinguished by their stunning synthesis of family drama and engrossing suspense. Her new novel is an affecting foray deeper into the creases of family life—and the light-and-dark battle of faith—as LaPlante delves into the barbed psyche of a teenager whose misguided convictions bear irrevocable consequences.

Never one to conform, Anna always had trouble fitting in. Earnest and willful, as a young girl she quickly learned how to hide her quirks from her parents and friends. But when, at sixteen, a sudden melancholia takes hold of her life, she loses her sense of self and purpose. Then the Goldschmidts move in next door. They're active members of a religious cult, and Anna is awestruck by both their son, Lars, and their fervent violent prophecies for the Tribulation at the End of Days. Within months, Anna's life—her family, her home, her very identity—will undergo profound changes. But when her newfound beliefs threaten to push her over the edge, she must find her way back to center with the help of unlikely friends. An intimate story of destruction and renewal, New York Times bestselling author LaPlante delivers a haunting exploration of family legacies, devotion, and tangled relationships.

About the Author

Alice LaPlante is an award-winning fiction writer and university creative writing instructor. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, and teaches creative writing at both Stanford and San Francisco State University. The author of five books (and counting), Alice includes among her publications a writing textbook, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story, published by W.W. Norton in 2009; Playing For Profit: How Digital Entertainment is Making Big Business Out of Child's Play (Wiley, 2000); and Passion to Profits: Business for Non-Business Majors (The Planning Shop, 2008).

Her novel, Turn of Mind (Grove Atlantic, July 2011) became a New York Times, NPR, and American Independent Booksellers Association bestseller within a month of release. Turn of Mind was also designated a New York Times Editors' Choice, an NPR, O Magazine, Vogue, and Globe and Mail Summer Reading Pick, and is featured in Barnes and Noble 2011 Discover Great New Writers program. Turn of Mind was also the first work of fiction to win the Welcome Prize.

Alice also has more than 25 years experience as an award-winning journalist, corporate editorial consultant, writing coach, and university-level writing instructor. She has written for Forbes ASAP, BusinessWeek, ComputerWorld, InformationWeek, Discover, and a host of other national publications. Her corporate clients include some of the best-known brands in the technology industry, including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec, Deloitte, and HP. Website Goodreads

My Review

A special thank you to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

COMING OF AGE AT THE END OF DAYS by Alice LaPlante is a quirky dark look inside a troubled girl’s mind, spiraling out of control, and her search for a higher purpose and meaning— with a dystopian, apocalyptic twist, highly charged psychological suspense, and haunting exploration of family, cause, faith, and relationships. Following a desperate search for meaning in life, a depressed teenager turns to a doomsday cult for answers and support. Anna a teen, living in Sunnyvale, California in a sixties housing development subdivision, she is sixteen when the darkness descends. She has had hints it was coming with interludes of deep sadness over the past twelve months. Mourning, triggered by the smallest things. Depression. She feels her body is the true enemy. She is awaiting for the expiration date to be released from the pain. Her mom begins reading her the Bible (literature purposes), which once belonged to Anna’s grandmother, giving them some time together. Anna is fascinated. Dismayed as much by Anna’s fixation on death found in Revelation as by her depression, Anna’s parents and her therapist try to trace Anna’s current state back to its roots. She was a loner and had trouble sleeping. She never really fit in. She has a therapist, Dr. Cummings. They continue feeding her pills and she is terrified when her therapist mentions hooking her to a machine and shooting her with electricity. Her parents remove everything in her closet, and razors, afraid of suicide. She is in love with death. Her therapist tells her to go through the motions. Her mother enjoyed music and her dad loved charting and graphing geological seismic activity. They are running out of options to help their daughter. Have they already lost her? In February of Anna’s junior year of high school, the Goldschmidts move in next door, active members of a religious cult and there is Jim, as well and teachers in her life. Anna is drawn in by their prophecies and beliefs as well as their fifteen year old son, son, Lars. Anna and Lars are both outcasts at school. Anna is drawn to something and grabs hold and she is content hearing about the Tribulation. The earthquakes, the Antichrist, the evil, corrupt, the armies – exciting to her. The church members are stockpiling, goods, saving money, preparing for the end. After Anna begins dreaming of a cryptic Red Heifer, she is even more excited about the Rapture, and is no longer in her depressed stage. The religious community is a breath of fresh air for her, with her cold parents – offering her a real connection. Her parents are atheists, and liberal-minded, and have no clue how to handle their daughter’s new found obsession. She feels she is part of the prophecy. However her new beliefs may push her over the edge. However, she now has found a purpose, she is driven, and alive. An intimate story of destruction, loss, death, love, sacrifice, and renewal--a dark, and haunting exploration into complex relationships. Having read Alice LaPlante’s previous books, a gifted writer --deep and psychological. Even though the book was dark and deals with religious cults, many young teens are drawn to a cause, and can get caught up and mislead in dangerous ways. Even adults have a purpose as the mother loved music and the dad science--Anna needed a connection. I did not enjoy this topic as much as LaPlante's other books; however, Anna’s character was well-developed, as we get to experience her journey. A thought-provoking and entertaining novel, and an ideal choice for book clubs or discussions with a variety of perspectives. May also have a strong appeal for the YA audience. Turn of Mind Circle of Wives

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