I got this book somewhat randomly (from a box of books to be thrown out) but ended up really enjoying it. I do love a solid middle grade novel where everyone learns a lesson, and this had that in spades. The World Ends In April follows Eleanor, who’s having a hard time in middle school — her mother is dead, she hates everyone at school, and her one best friend Mack might be leaving to go to another school. She deliberately tries not to interact with anyone at school but Mack, but now he’s considering going to a special school for the blind, which would leave her with no one. Eleanor’s grandpa is a doomsday prepper and has been training her and her little brothers for the end of the world their whole lives, much to her dad’s intense displeasure. When Eleanor finds a website online that says an asteroid is going to strike the world in a few months and bring the end of the world as we know it, she becomes convinced this is going to happen and starts trying to prepare her family and Mack.
I think what I especially liked about this book is that Eleanor is a complex protagonist — she’s prickly, angry, and has a lot of feelings packed inside that she tries to keep to herself. She has some serious fights with her dad in this book, and I felt like it was a pretty realistic portrayal of middle school level angst, with her dad trying to make her realize that the asteroid is a hoax and her not feeling like he’s listening to her or taking her seriously. I also liked that Eleanor has to realize that her isolation from the other kids in her grade and casting some of them as evil in her mind is not good for her and is cutting her off from making more friends. The humanization and development of her relationship with Londyn, her worst enemy, was a really nice story arc. And her coming to terms with Mack going to a new school after her continual refusal to even acknowledge it was also well done. Overall, I would recommend this and thought it was a good addition to the anxious middle grade protagonist canon.
Warnings for: end of the world fear, dead mom, bullying/social embarrassment