Today we’re talking about Megan Hunter’s debut novel The End We Start From. It is at once profound, trippy, and linguistically challenging. This is a fragmentary mix of biblical mythology, free verse poetry, and flowery prose. Yet, this complex style is effortless for Hunter, who tackles an equally difficult plot.
The unnamed protagonist of The End We Start From evacuates London with her newborn baby, escaping biblical scale floods that have rendered all of England unlivable.
The deaths of R’s, her husbands, parents precede her pilgrimage to the refugee camps of Scotland. There, her relationships with other young mothers burgeon into metaphors for the world struggling into its resurrection from the banks of the flood waters.
Her discontinuous story is interspersed with flashbacks and lines from the biblically inspired poem that mirrors her life. Just like TS Eliot, whose writings gave way to the book’s title, the short, arresting sections grab your attention and keep you reading. I read this book in thirty minutes last night, cover to cover.
I honestly could not tell you whether I liked or disliked this book. Its original style is interesting, but its plot is equally disturbing. For a novella, though, this book captures an impressive amount of literary weight and allegory. Universal themes of motherhood and loss are hard to explore with books as long as Anna Karenina, but Hunter manages to make headway in only a hundred and fifty pages.
The End We Start From is beautiful in the same way as modern spoken word. Its selection of detail is fresh and relevant. Its darker, even disgusting, subjects are tackled with something like grace.
I would recommend this book to those interested in speculative fiction and free-verse poetry. For those of you that like to read books that make you think, but also have limited time, this book is also wonderful.
I give it a 3.5/5 stars, because I am honestly still confused.