*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The End We Start From
Author: Megan Hunter
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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 is 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.
A sparse yet beautifully told story of a time when humanity is affected by a rapidly changing environment. Flood waters rise forcing people from their homes, separating families, and pitting human against human. Amidst the chaos, a baby is born–a promise of new life and a symbol of hope. While the world collapses around them, the narrator is propelled by instinct to protect and raise her child, Z. This story is frustrating at times because there isn’t a lot of contact. The book is actually much, much shorter than I expected it to be, but it really tells just the gist of the story. The need-to-know facts. The characters are all referred to as a letter, presumably an initial. This really gives the sense that the characters could be anyone at any time and any place. This tactic keeps the character purposefully vague. They are all the everyman. This is a telling of one story, but it is not a unique story–what I mean is although we get this short snapshot into the speaker’s life, her story could be that of any character in the book, thus they are all named with simply a letter.
This story is timely in it’s presentation of environmental disaster, sadly not a thing foreign to us in the real world. What it’s truly about though, is the resiliency of humanity. Our primary instinct is to fight for survival and to keep life going. Hunter’s tale shows how connections are lost and made, how we humans need one another, but sometimes love isn’t enough to keep us bound to each other. In her minimal writing, Hunter is honest in exposing human experiences in a time of catastrophic crisis.
I did only give this book three stars because although I understand why one might chose to write with such a sparse technic, I do find that this detracts from the power that a story can wield. This book could have been so much more. The potential is there and I was unsatisfied at the end, wanting more of a connection with both the characters and the story. Still, it is a beautiful piece and I’m glad to have read it.