The End of You and Me

The End of You and Me

The End of You and Me was first published in 2014 and is the debut novel of Wendi M Lee. The novel is a contemporary coming-of-age tale that focuses on the relationship between two teenagers as they struggle to overcome the various obstacles that try to keep them apart.

Kate and London have always done everything together. Ever since they were children, they have considered themselves as one being – always thinking and acting alike. Their school friends all think that they are strange, not seeing how two people can be so close and yet not in a relationship, but this has never bothered the young couple. They are just content in each other’s presence.

Everything starts to change when Anastasia breezes into their lives. Although she is the new girl in their class, Anastasia quickly makes a reputation for herself with her tall tales, plucky attitude and seductive behaviour. She quickly latches on to Kate and London, professing a fascination in their relationship while continuing to flirt with both of them. Equally intrigued, the couple begin to spend more time with her.

Following a run in with Kate’s controlling father, she is forever banned from spending time with her soul mate. In order to still be with him, they begin to meet in secret at Anastasia’s home. However, as they spend more time with Anastasia they start to notice a change in her. The mood swings grow increasingly erratic and she begins to show more and more interest in London. How far will she be able to push Kate before she snaps, and is there any way that the lovers can be together forever when everyone keeps trying to drive them apart?

The End of You and Me is an incredibly unusual novel and my feelings about it are very mixed. To begin with the good points, it is very well written and effectively presents the character of Kate through the first person narrative. Everyone who has experienced young love can appreciate how all-encompassing it is. Although Kate does not at first recognise her feelings as being love, her obsession with London penetrates her every thought. She cannot conceive of doing anything unless he is involved. Movies are watched together, food is eaten together, college applications are synchronised. Although it seems as though they are living out of each other’s pockets (and the cynic in me wants to say that it will never last), the two of them are content and happy in each other’s company.

However, the plot did have a tendency to meander, often repeating similar situations over and over in a number of different ways. There is no driving storyline with a clear goal in mind as the book’s purpose is more to provide a window into Kate’s life over the course of a number of months. Consequentially, the story is somewhat slow moving, particularly in the first half, as we are presented with numerous examples of how London and Kate complement each other. Occasional plot threads rear their heads to combat this – such as London’s desire to break curfew and to spend one evening in Manhattan – but these ultimately go nowhere as Anastasia takes centre stage in the plot.

Anastasia is one of my biggest problems with the story, as her erratic behaviour just did not sit well with me. While it is sometimes interesting to have an unbalanced character in a storyline to add an element of unpredictability, Anastasia seemed to be completely divorced from reality. I just could not understand this character at all. She seemed to have no motivation for what she did, particularly towards the end of the novel. I was not even sure if she really liked Kate at all. Throughout the story there were certainly indications that she was attracted to Kate but I was never certain if these feelings were genuine or just a mind game that she was playing.

The more I think about Anastasia, the less I understand her. I thought at first that maybe she was supposed to be exhibiting signs of a bipolar disorder but there were no depressive states, she merely flipped between mania and insanity. At first, I found her quirks to be charming but as the story progressed her entertaining lies disappeared and were instead just replaced with pure vitriol. In the end, she is wholly unrepentant and never fully explains herself. Why would she try to push Kate and London together if she wanted one (I’m not sure which) of them for herself? It just raises too many questions.

The other characters in the novel are a lot stronger. I felt sympathy for London when I learned of his difficult home life and moved when I read of how he had factored remaining with Kate into his future dreams. Kate’s parents are also interesting characters – her father taking his role of master of the house very seriously while her mother was a shrinking violet, choosing the easy path of remaining silent and never questioning her husband. I did feel that Kate’s father was a little over the top – he treats her like a delinquent even though she is an honour student who has never been in trouble before, and is quick to punish her over the tiniest thing – he was certainly an intimidating character and I always felt tense when he was in a scene in case he lashed out at her. The only thing that I felt was missing was a catharsis between Kate and her father. Kate never confronts her father in the story and so their plot felt unresolved in the end.

The only other thing that I feel I ought to comment on is the ending. I’m not going to spoil this for you, but I will just say that the story had a couple of very dark twists in its tail. Both of these came entirely out of left field and felt to me to be a little out of place in the story. The story was not particularly dark until the first sudden twist and then this tone continued through the rest of the novel. The second twist only occurs within the last few pages and left a bitter taste in my mouth. It was so sudden and happened too late in the tale to do anything other than to leave a black mark on the ending.

So, to conclude, Wendi M Lee has a very fluid and readable writing style and creates a very well rounded character in Kate, but The End of You and Me ultimately is a little underwhelming. The story is quite repetitive and contains some dark twists that feel out of place and the character of Anastasia is highly inconsistent and possesses some incredibly vague motivation for the way that she acts within her story. If you are looking for a contemporary romance that is a little different, this novel is probably worth a look in, but it’s not really one for someone who is not already a fan of the genre.

The End of You and Me can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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