A well-written dysfunctional family is one of my favorite literary tropes, and Sofie’s messy New Hampshire clan didn’t fail to disappoint.
As a sixteen-year-old myself, I found Sofie to be perfectly believable. She is smart, but not an insane genius; angry at her mother, but not hateful; loyal to her friends, but always staying true to herself. Her romance with Luke is wonderfully complex. Like any teenager with their first significant other, Sofie is nervous and bright-eyed at the beginning, but matures as the relationships develops. After all, Luke is an adult and she is a teenager, though their roles are sometimes reversed when Luke’s PTSD strikes. Readers will fall in love with the couple, while serious warnings from the author will remind them of harsh realities preventing the characters from maintaining a long-lasting relationship.
Another fascinating dynamic is that of Sofie and her mother. Sofie’s anger at her mother is merited, to be sure. Being abandoned had to be a traumatic experience. Finding out her mother’s backstory was the really interesting part, though. Cambodia isn’t a country that appears very often in YA fiction.
One of the best things about this book is how short it is. Drawn-out trilogies can get tiring, so I was delighted to find such a worthwhile book with less than 200 pages.
Either the Beginning or the End of the World is a unique exploration of a teenaged girl's quest to save her family and find herself.