I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.No Parking At The End Times by Bryan Bliss
Published by Harper Collins on February 24, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
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.
Some people find comfort in the promises of religion and others live for those promises as if nothing else matters, even if it hurts the people you love. This is the scenario we find in No Parking At The End Times, a book about a family that is led to a very sad and destructive place by a person who claims to have all of God’s answers. Religion in its most damaging seems to be a theme that’s occurring a lot in the spring/summer YA releases this year, but I welcome the discussion. Even those who don’t prescribe to a belief system might find themselves confronted with questions of religion and faith, so I think it’s a very relevant subject for YA. Abagail is afraid for her family, but decides that staying together is the most important thing, while her twin brother, Aaron, wants to get away fast. Living in their van near the church in San Francisco, giving away everything they get to Brother John, this book definitely shows what can be the ugly side of religion. Brother John, at least to me, was clearly a manipulative zealot. I would have liked to delve more into the broken places inside of Abigail’s dad that led him to follow Brother John so ardently, but I think the short answer was both despondency after losing his job, and hope that things would get better if he just gave more to this preacher.
Since this book is told from Abigail’s point of view, we see her parents struggle through the eyes of a teen, and it was quite heartbreaking, in places. It really highlighted the way life can turn so quickly, how people like this family, could be living a middle class life one month and part of the ‘invisible’ homeless population the next. Aaron starts to make friends with one of the many street kids that live in San Francisco and I think that they keep both teens grounded, in a weird way. They are accepted by the homeless teens in a way that they do not feel accepted elsewhere. The story started to lose momentum in the middle, becoming a bit repetitive with a subplot involving Aaron that didn’t mesh well with the rest of the story, but it wasn’t detrimental to my enjoyment of the book, overall. No Parking At The End Times was less about losing faith than it was about taking control of it. Abigail has to reach down, past the hurt and the betrayal and the fear, to grab the part of her faith that centers her. It was a compelling story that provided a lot of food for thought with an ending that was both suspenseful and emotional.