Birch Hills at World’s End

bh_coverproofFrom Reading Review:

It’s 1999. The world is anxiously awaiting Y2K–the Millennium bug–when all computers are supposed to fail because they haven’t been programmed to rollover from 99 to 00.  Wall posters feature The Clash, Kurt Cobain and Blade Runner.

T-shirts read: Kill ‘Em All. Army surplus bags read: KILL YOURSELF NOW. The Columbine massacre will happen this year, on April 20.

One of Josh’s dreams comes true when he becomes the boyfriend of Lindsay Kruthers. She’s sixteen and beautiful, his female counterpart in fashion and wit, and the owner (and author) of the aforementioned Army surplus bag.

The three start partying at a house outside of town called “The Farm,” a run-down Victorian with a yard full of broken-down cars, populated by 20 and 30-year-olds who are serious drug dealers, violent parolees and losers.

When Josh drops in on Erik and finds Lindsay’s boots and coat hanging on the banister–and Erik buttoning up his shirt–doubt and jealously attack. Slowly their friendship comes unglued. Added to that is the Doomsday Book itself; Josh is beginning to worry that Erik’s secret might turn out to be more than prose…

Birch Hills at World’s End is ultimately a book about loss. It would be easy to say “loss of innocence”; easy, but untrue. Hyatt’s characters don’t have much innocence to start with. But they do have friendship, and that can be hard to lose at any age. It’s especially hard when you’re young. A time come when you realize you and your best friend have grown apart. Maybe you were together for a reason, but the reason is gone, and the friendship’s gone with it. And that hurts.

Geoff Hyatt’s book also points out the ease at which projection can occur when the mysterious meets the fearful. In Birch Hills at World’s Endone man’s terrorist is another man’s loser with green hair. The result of these projections, as Hyatt subtly points out, can be fatal to those individuals society chooses to paint black.

“Against the backdrop of the gas stations, Dairy Queen parking lots, and under-construction subdivisions of an economically changing Michigan town, Hyatt draws us in with his original voice and spot-on awareness of what it feels like to try to grow up and face difficult, sometimes life-altering choices during an uncertain time. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Birch Hills at World’s End will make us all glad that we lived through Y2K—if for no other reason than to have the chance to read this book.” — Patricia Ann McNair, author of The Temple of Air


“Birch Hills at World’s End is a terrific coming-of-age tale told in a way that feels completely fresh. Hyatt handles the important themes of alienation, young love, friendship and family with scrupulous honesty, which is why we care about his characters so deeply by the end. He perfectly captures the heartbreak and hilarity of adolescence, artfully detailing the ugliness and confusion as well as the epiphinal moments of grace. It’s a great book by an exciting new author.” — Don De Grazia, author of American Skin


From The Rumpus:

I wish there were more books like this one, I really do. It was painful to read in the same way that flipping through an old yearbook is painful. But the way the events of this book pan out, the perspective awarded to kids like Josh who are smart enough to question everything and everyone around them, made me appreciate my own life that much more. I knew kids just like Erik. There was even a little bit of Erik inside me. And I still got out.

There’s hope yet.


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