After Abigail’s parents decide to sell off all their worldly possessions and move the entire family across the country in a van to follow a preacher who warns that the world is ending, it doesn’t take long to realize that they’ve made a huge mistake. Left with nothing and stuck in San Francisco with only her twin brother for company, Abigail struggles to reconcile the love she has for her parents with their selfish, stupid decision that has permanent–and dangerous consequences.
Bryan Bliss’s debut novel is smart, thoughtful, and character-driven. It’s been compared to a whole roster of popular authors writing for teens, but the comparison that feels the closest is definitely Sara Zarr’s books. Both authors write character-driven novels, and the examination of faith here is similar to some of Zarr’s other works. Thoughtful, emotionally resonant, and smart, this is a noteworthy debut.
The novel’s strengths–strong characterization and emotional honesty–also draw attention to its weaker aspects. The plot is slow-moving and at times very repetitious, which is going to frustrate readers who want a faster pace. The novel’s ending is a bit on the too-neat end, which might also irritate some readers, especially those who find the rest of the novel’s complexity to be so satisfying.
Even so, the book is one that libraries should have on their shelves. It’s a thoughtful examination of growing up and examining one’s faith, as well as an interesting take on families. Bryan Bliss is an author to watch for going forward. Recommended.
No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss. Greenwillow Books: 2015. Library copy.