Summary: The World Ends in April
The World Ends in April is author Stacy McAnulty’s sophomore middle-grade novel. Her strong-willed protagonist Eleanor Dross’s grandfather is a survivalist. He frequently runs “bug out drills” with his grandchildren. However, Eleanor has become less enthused about his drills as she’s gotten older. She’s more interested in spending time with her best (and only) friend — a Black visually-impaired boy named Mack.
But then a renowned scientist begins to spread news of an impending asteroid hit. As a result, Eleanor gets caught up in end-of-the-world propaganda. Along with Mack she starts a survivalist club at school. Of course, they run under the guise of a “nature club.” The club attracts some unexpected members, including Eleanor’s nemesis, Londyn. But as the kids prepare for TEOTWAWKI (the End of the World as We Know It), they learn more about each other and life than they expect.
This book has a refreshingly unique premise. Same as McAnulty’s Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, you have no idea what to expect. But as I listened to this one, Eleanor drew me in quickly. I also loved Mack’s character and the fact that the book states his ethnicity without fanfare. Plus, he has a physical disability that does not define him.
The World Ends in April tackles many unexpected themes. What begins as a possible asteroid hit suddenly consumes Eleanor and Londyn especially. Both girls hold on to their belief that the asteroid will hit earth. I enjoyed watching the author reveal their motives while also tackling the need to verify information sources.
Finally, Eleanor is a real misfit who clings to her friend Mack. Naturally, she is terrified by the possibility of him moving to a special needs school. Even adults struggle with growing a wider circle and letting friends do the same. I thought the entire situation was sensitively handled in this book.
This book could be a bit shorter. I got a bit bored in the third quarter when the plot seemed to stall.
Overall: The World Ends in April
The World Ends in April is a unique, insightful, and sensitive look at the way some children handle change. Among other things, it shows the value of credible information sources and explores how kids can better deal with difficult life situations. With a strong cast lovable — albeit stubborn — characters, this is a book worth reading.
If you enjoy books featuring characters with a physical disability, STEM-related books, or books about grandparents, you’ll enjoy this one.
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Have you read The World Ends in April or any other books by Stacy McAnulty? What did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!