I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss
Published by Harper Collins on February 24th 2015
Genres: Family, Homelessness & Poverty, Runaways, Social Issues, Young Adult
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Abigail's parents believed the world was going to end. And—of course—it didn't. But they've lost everything anyway. And she must decide: does she still believe in them? Or is it time to believe in herself? Fans of Sara Zarr, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell will connect with this moving debut.Abigail's parents never should have made that first donation to that end-of-times preacher. Or the next, or the next. They 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 for the "end of the world." Because now they're living in their van. And Aaron is full of anger, 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 debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.
If a book is pitched with the word Rapture in it and is not actually of the Left Behind persuasion, you can bet that I am going to be immediately interested in the book. No Parking At The End Times by debut author Bryan Bliss wasn’t really pitched to me with the word Rapture, but that’s sort of what it is about. That’s a major theme. However, I initially picked the book up because being the shallow person that I am, it being nice and short was really appealing to me at the moment. I was not entirely sure what to expect, but it turns out that the Sara Zarr blurb on the cover did not steer me wrong.
No Parking At The End Times follows main character, first person narrator Abigail who is living in a van with her mom, dad and twin brother Aaron in San Francisco. Her parents have sold all of their earthly possessions believing that the Rapture is coming and that they will be among those people Raptured. So, they head from the South to California to follow this preacher named Brother John. Abigail has always been faithful, however, she finds her faith sorely tested by all of this change and by actually being homeless. Not that her family was rich before, however, they at least had a home. When Abigail finds out that Aaron is leaving the van at night to meet new street kid friends, Abigail hits a sort of turning point, and that’s what this whole book by Bryan Bliss pivots around.
One thing that I loved about this book was how unsure Abigail was. I feel like there’s a bit of a dearth when it comes to young adult books with characters exploring faith. Or, if not a dearth, then I am lacking in knowledge of these books. Anyways, what I liked is that in the book it’s not all preachy one way or another. It’s not like it comes across as faith being a bad thing or a necessary thing. Instead, it is presented as something very personal. I just really liked that. Furthermore, Abigail is the type of person who doesn’t always make waves. She’s a peacekeeper and it comes across really strongly in this book. She just wants her parents and her brother to get along. She just wants to go home and for everything to go back to normal. I like that Abigail isn’t entirely skeptical right off the bat of Brother John, even though he’s totally one of those snake oil type of preachers.
I won’t go super into depth, but I will say that I loved Bryan Bliss’s exploration of homelessness and religious fanaticism. He paints the characters in a way that doesn’t mock or insult, but instead makes them sympathetic. Granted, yes, I was enraged with Abigail and Aaron’s parents as they make terrible life choices that impact their children. However, the dad was just so steadfast in his faith, it’s where he finds hope. It’s not like he’s actively being a douche. He’s not even one of those the man is the head of the household let’s be controlling types. So, I felt like it was easy to feel empathy for this family.
In all, this is a poignant book about surviving strange circumstances — living in a van and fixing a family that has been broken. I think No Parking At The End Times by Bryan Bliss is a book that deserves trumpeting and deserves to be on your TBR.