Happy Thursday, Reading Nook readers!
Are you guys all counting down to the release of House of Cards? Because WE TOTALLY ARE.
But while we wait, I wanted to share my review of No Parking at the End Times. Bryan Bliss has written a unique story of faith and mental health, and how sometimes, you have to determine what you want for yourself.
Hardcover, 272 pages Published February 24th 2015 by Greenwillow Books
(first published January 1st 2015)
more details... Format read: E-ARC via Edelweiss
Through Abby's journey, we see how sometimes the things we love the most, may be the worst things for us. And it's important for us to learn how to break free.
Abigail doesn't know how her dad found Brother John. Maybe it was the billboards. Or the radio. What she does know is that he never should have made that first donation. Or the next, or the next. Her parents shouldn't have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there with Brother John for the "end of the world." Because of course the end didn't come. And now they're living in their van. And Aaron’s disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But maybe it’s too big a task for one teenage girl. Bryan Bliss’s thoughtful, literary debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.
And let me just say: No Parking at the End Times, doesn't disappoint. Bryan Bliss's story is wonderfully different, and occasionally painful, but it's also a refreshing look at faith, family and just how sometimes, we need to learn how to break free from our family, to pursue our own beliefs.
Things that worked:
Bliss introduces readers to Abby at the worst possible moment: it's the failed aftermath of her family's hoped-for doomsday salvation, and now they have to figure out what to do next.
While Abby is understandably in a state of restless panic over those next steps, Bliss carefully walks us through each stage of her post-doomsday grief. He shows us how each time her parents put their faith over their family, Abby realizes a little more that her family may be beyond saving, and she shouldn't jeopardize her and her brother's happiness at the expense of trying to hold the family together.
Though she struggles with self-doubt, a personality trait that Bliss dissects thoroughly, it's Abby's (fairly) rational approach to problem solving, along with her decision to eventually take a stand that will also make her relatable and sympathetic, especially for those who are in difficult family/personal situations themselves.
Readers will likely also become engaged with secondary characters like Aaron, who show what it means to through caution to the wind, and to rebel in the face of family drama. However, Aaron is there when it counts the most, and the sibling relationship will also resonate with many readers.
No Parking at the End Times is one of those books where the really big action has taken place prior to the start of the book - e.g. Abby's parents selling their property; making the decision to move - and the readers, along with Abby, now have to pick up the pieces.
Bliss does a brilliant job of plotting the emotional freefall experienced by those trying to process the fact the prophesized doomsday hasn't come to pass, and how it's the doomsday inaction, which spurs on personal action that drives the rest of the novel. He also delivers a compelling personal journey for Abby, full of well-plotted highs and lows that will definitely make readers wonder what's going to happen next.
The relationship factor
One of the best parts about No Parking at the End Times, is the fact that the book chooses to focus on the relationships within Abby's own family. We see how her parents struggle with each other, with Abby's mom never willing to take a stand against her husband or Brother John, and how Abby and her brother band together to survive.
It's a compelling look at how sometimes, love and faith just aren't enough to hold a family together, and how there isn't really shame in realizing that your family doesn't always have your best interests at heart.
The deeper issues
Faith and love are at the center of Bliss's story, and Bliss does a great job of dissecting both how faith can encourage a person to keep going, or can be used to separate a person from others.
While I've seen some people say that Bliss's book is anti-religion, that's not exactly the case. Bliss shows both the benefits of having strong faith, and how detrimental blind faith can be, and leaves it up to the reader to make their own assessment.
Without giving any spoilers away, I can say that there isn't a perfect and/or happy ending to No Parking at the End Times. However, Bliss writes a convincingly realistic resolution for Abby and her family, and readers will be left crossing their fingers that things will pick up for them from here on out.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
Bryan Bliss has written a thoughtful, well-plotted tale exploring the challenges of blind faith, and just what a person does, when their parents - those who are supposed to protect and love them best - have completely and utterly failed them. Along the way, he also shows just how one girl is able to muster up the courage and the strength to act against the obstacles in her life, hopefully evetually making a better world for herself in the process.
Highly recommend for all readers, especially those who are looking for a book where the main character learns valuable lessons on family, conquering self-doubt and personal strength.