This is short book, so this review will also be a bit short. THE END WE START FROM is a lyrical masterpiece hidden behind a dystopian novel. I can’t even begin to to describe how I feel about this book. It is so good.
THE END WE START FROM is about a woman who gives birth right as her home, and most of London, is being submerged under water. She names her child Z, short for Zeb. Everyone else in this story is only known by a letter. The main character is never named and the details of her are more about how she is feeling or imagines she is seen by others, than what she actually looks like. The story follows the woman on this journey to find safety and security for her and her child. Along with the horror of being separated from her husband, being displaced and forced to live with strangers, there is the miracle of this baby Z that she loves so much.
The books starts with this:
“I am hours from giving birth, from the event I thought would never happen to me, and R has gone up a mountain.”
This story is more about motherhood than the event. It was so fascinating to read about this woman whose whole world has changed not just because of the event, but because of the Z, a child she thought she would never have. She’s older and has waited a long time to be a mother. Even still, motherhood changes a woman. Her story of discovery of her child, along with the miracle and struggles of newborns, was so familiar.
The prose in this book is sparse, and the author doesn’t waste a single word. For me the scenes were easy to imagine as the story flows from the woman’s perspective effortlessly. I almost want to compare this to THE HANDMAID’S TALE as it was vague but gave just enough details to tell a story. Of course, this story is more complete in my opinion as we see where the characters end up and it is much more linear.
The only thing I didn’t like was the brevity of the story. I did enjoy where the story left off but I would have read and enjoyed another 400 pages of a story like this, written in this way. I would to read more from this author and I highly recommend this book.
The End We Start from by Megan Hunter
Published by Grove Press on November 14th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Dystopian
eARC provided by Grove Press
A Fall 2017 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
"The End We Start From is strange and powerful, and very apt for these uncertain times. I was moved, terrified, uplifted--sometimes all three at once. It takes skill to manage that, and Hunter has a poet's understanding of how to make each word count."--Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring
Preempted by publishers around the world within days of the 2016 London Book Fair, The End We Start From heralds the arrival of Megan Hunter, a dazzling and unique literary talent. Hunter's debut is a searing original, a modern-day parable of rebirth and renewal, of maternal bonds, and the instinct to survive and thrive in the absence of all that's familiar.
As London is submerged below floodwaters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, she and her baby are forced to leave their home in search of safety. They head north through a newly dangerous country seeking refuge from place to place. The story traces fear and wonder as the baby grows, thriving and content against all the odds.
The End We Start From is an indelible and elemental first book--a lyrical vision of the strangeness and beauty of new motherhood, and a tale of endurance in the face of ungovernable change.
"Virginia Woolf does cli-fi." Independent (UK)