Either the Beginning or the End of the World


Product Details

$18.99  $17.66
Carolrhoda Lab (R)
Publish Date
5.9 X 9.1 X 0.9 inches | 1.0 pounds

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About the Author

Terry Farish is a writing teacher and author with a passion for telling the stories of people from many cultures. Her novel The Good Braider was named a YALSA Best Book of the Year and selected as an American Library Association Outstanding Book for the College Bound and Lifelong Learner. Her second novel, Either the Beginning or the End of the World, will be published in 2015. Her previous picture book, The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup, won a BCCB Blue Ribbon award. She lives in Kittery, ME.


"Almost 17-year-old Sofie lives with her fisherman father and dog on the rugged and unforgiving Pisqataqua River in New Hampshire. For as long as she can remember, it's been just the two of them, making ends meet the best they can. An early closure of the shrimping season forces her father down south to the Chincoteague, but not before he unequivocally warns Sofie not to see Luke, a volatile deckhand returned from duty as a medic in Afghanistan. With her father gone, her long-absent mother and grandmother move in to take his place. She grudgingly begins to learn more about their life in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and though she doesn't want their history for her own, she slowly realizes that she may not have a choice. Meanwhile, she finds herself quickly consumed by the pull of Luke. Poetic, spare, and sometimes near stream of consciousness, Farish's writing is haunting. She paints broad strokes and excels at setting a tone that pervades every word and action. The sexual tension between Sofie and Luke is palpable. Beautifully written and briskly paced, the sparse prose evokes the rugged, bleak landscape, the simplicity of Sofie's former life with her Dad, and the immediate, unspoken union between her and Luke. VERDICT: An excellent choice for readers seeking a less than neatly packaged love story or a glimpse into the complicated lineage of war-torn areas."--starred, School Library Journal

-- (9/1/2015 12:00:00 AM)

"Sixteen-year-old Sofie is her daddy's girl, having weathered real and metaphorical storms with him as he tries to make a living as a New Hampshire fisherman. Needing to travel further to make his catch, he invites her Cambodian mother and grandmother to stay with her while he's gone. Sofie is angry--angry that her mother left her and is now coming back pregnant after all these years, but also angry that she can't help longing for maternal closeness. Additionally, she's smitten with troubled Luke, a twenty-two-year-old medic back from Afghanistan and suffering from PTSD. Her steamy but always discreetly rendered relationship with him helps her understand her mother's and grandmother's responses to their traumatic past under the Khmer Rouge, a past that has left her mother feeling unable to care for her daughter and frightened for the future of her unborn son. The storytelling here has the logic of a dream, condensing the realistic moments of Sofie's days, her grandmother's heartbreaking memories, her mother's fears, and Luke's compelling need into interlaced metaphors that help Sofie sort out her complicated feelings while still leaving tantalizing gaps for readers to fill in. A hopeful ending doesn't undercut the realism, as both Luke and Sofie come to an understanding of what they need to heal. Give this to readers who enjoy sophisticated literary prose and a narrative where love is as strong and complex as the many forces that work against it."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

-- (12/1/2015 12:00:00 AM)

"Sixteen-year-old Sofie lives in New Hampshire with her single fisherman father who is struggling under the weight of economic hardship caused by the changing fish population and strict government regulations. While walking her constant canine companion, Pilot, Sofie stumbles upon a troubled young man with a gun. Upon striking up a conversation with the young man, she learns he is Luke, a twenty-something, returned from serving as a medic in the National Guard in Afghanistan. Luke suffers from depression and haunting flashbacks of his wartime experiences, yet finds solace upon meeting Sofie. When Sofie's father discovers his daughter talking to Luke, he warns her to stay away from him due to his volatile reputation. Having lived without her Cambodian-born mother for many years, Sofie is devasted when her father leaves her under her mother's care to go south to search for better fishing opportunities. In her father's absence, Sofie begins a romantic relationship with Luke. They both face personal demons. Luke suffers from symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder; Sofie faces abandonment issues which resurface while living with her mentally frail and pregnant mother and judgmental grandmother. Moreover, both of these women are dealing with their terrible memories of the genocide they faced in their native Cambodia. Throughout the novel, the characters struggle to understand and accept each other. Told in short chapters, Either the Beginning or the End of the World moves quickly with well developed characters and fluid dialogue. Farish has written a thoughtful and lyrical novel. Teens desiring a higher work of literature will not be disappointed while reading this. Issues of cultural identity, post traumatic stress disorder, and what defines love are addressed in this work fit for the high school and beyond audience."--VOYA

-- (12/1/2015 12:00:00 AM)

"Sofie, nearly seventeen, lives in coastal New Hampshire with her fisherman father. She's Scottish on her father's side and Cambodian on her mother's, though she rejects her Cambodian heritage ('I am not Cambodian...I have no past. I have no ancestors...I make myself from scratch every day'), angry at her mother for abandoning them when Sofie was a child. Early in the book, Sofie meets Lucas, a troubled young medic recently returned from Afghanistan, of whom her father demands she steer clear. But then her dad heads south for a better winter catch; Sofie and Luke begin a tentative relationship; and Sofie is forced to confront her fractured heritage when her (pregnant) mother and grandmother move back in. This story is about a search for emotional and cultural identity and, equally, about the effects of war and trauma. Sofie witnesses horrific pain in Luke's PTSD and in her grandmother's stories about atrocities in Khmer Rouge-ruled Cambodia; and by learning the intricacies of human suffering, Sofie undergoes an empathetic awakening. Farish writes the first-person narration in unadorned prose, focusing on raw emotions and the details of the frigid wintertime setting. An intensely melancholy tone permeates it all, but, as the fitting title suggests, what appears to be an ending (of a life, of a relationship) could, from another perspective, be the start of something hopeful."--The Horn Book Magazine

-- (11/1/2015 12:00:00 AM)

"Though technically not a verse novel like The Good Braider (2012), Farish's new novel, a bittersweet love story between a fisherman's teenage daughter and a soldier returned from Afghanistan, reads like a series of connected prose poems rather than a straightforward narrative. Sixteen-year-old Sofie knows the ins and outs of the fishing business in their coastal New Hampshire town, and her father is about to go under. While he takes his boat south to find a better winter catch, Sofie's estranged Cambodian mother and grandmother arrive to stay with her instead. Resentful of their intrusion and unsettled by stories of her Cambodian family, inextricably tied to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, Sophie spends more time with gentle, enigmatic Luke, a young army medic. They fall in love despite being aware that it cannot last. Luke, suffering from PTSD, hasn't yet found his way back from the war. With evocative language and imagery, and a wandering, internal narrative, this quiet novel examines the intersections of love and war in a family's history."--Booklist

-- (9/15/2015 12:00:00 AM)

"In New Hampshire, a 17-year-old Cambodian-American girl falls for a mysterious military medic in this poetically rendered novel by the author of The Good Braider (2012). Most people would dial 911 if they saw a lone figure with a gun standing on a broken pier near icy, rushing water. But instead, Sofie Grear calls out to Lucas, a National Guard medic who served in Afghanistan. Their chance encounter leads to a romance that must be kept secret, because Lucas is 22. Along with a new boyfriend who seems to be suffering from PTSD, Sofie is also worried about her white fisherman father's struggling business. He must leave home for fresh fishing grounds, leaving Sofie in the care of her estranged Cambodian mother, who is pregnant with another man's child. For Sofie, who insists 'I am not Cambodian . . . I have no ancestors. I have no mother. I make myself from scratch every day, ' this is a terrible betrayal. But once her mother and grandmother move in and share their history, which dates back to the tyrannical rule of the Khmer Rouge, Sofie discovers that stories from her past are helpful in solving the problems of her present. Though the characterization is uneven (Lucas is a cipher, while Sophie's no-nonsense grandmother steals every scene she is in), Farish spins an atmospheric plot with lyrical language. Readers willing to take their time will enjoy this earnest cross-cultural meditation on love and family."--Kirkus Reviews

-- (8/15/2015 12:00:00 AM)