The End We Start From Book Review

Remember when I was moving?

So after I got done moving, got my internet fixed, got caught up on some literary responsibilities, and got some job interview practice in, I started reading The End We Start From, by Megan Hunter. The publisher agreed to let me read it early here in the US, for some reason. Hey, you don’t have to give me permission to do something twice. I probably should’ve posted this sooner, but the book didn’t come out here in the states until last Tuesday, and I got confused since this was my first time reading a book in a market early. I’m probably in trouble. Though, I certainly hope to be able to do this again soon. This is my The End We Start From review.

I started this book not sure what to expect.

The End We Start From is Megan Hunter’s debut novel. I chose it for my first set of books to read in the new apartment because I guess I wanted something that reminded me of the type of thing I had to read as an English major before I graduated a few weeks ago. I’m questioning what I want to do with my life after graduating. The job hunt has still not been very productive. This reading thing is about all I’ve got for now. I want to make the most of it. I want to feel like my degree was a significant step for where I’m at now. Take me back, Megan Hunter.

As I read the book, I wasn’t taken back to my traditional English classes. I was taken back to one of my creative writing classes. One class in particular.


A particular creative writing class looking at Ernest Hemingway.

I looked back at Hemingway’s short story collection In Our Time and noticed a possible inspiration for the minimalist form. Hunter’s style is definitely unique. It still takes me back to Hemingway; I can’t help it. And maybe it was because I like short things, but while reading I found myself wanting to write again. I love Hunter’s fearlessness. She’s not afraid to overturn any rocks, such as the narrator’s descriptions of baby poo, though she is careful not to overturn them for the hell of it. The details about the baby, Z, are carefully crafted around the horrible events that the adults have to face. It’s not until the novel leaves R, the father, and forces the reader to focus on the narrator and her baby, that Hunter proves her mastery over what’s important in a story.

It’s short, but it’s enough to be a lot.

Note: the following image and link are affiliate links. I earn commission from Amazon if you click the link and make a purchase. – Buy The End We Start From on Amazon.

Megan Hunter writes for us a story within the discourse of of motherhood during a world-ending scenario as the water levels rise. Global warming, anyone? The tension of the the disaster competes with the tensions of having and caring for a baby and being a mother. Hunter writes her prose very freely. It’s minimalistic in style, yet pinches at you with complexity. Almost without realizing it, the prose slowly evolves into poetry: the condensed, significant images of what matters in the situation, or any situation. The form is a subtle nod toward the idea of form mirroring content, the minimal becoming overwhelming, the emptiness becoming everything. Every detail is carefully chosen. There is no wasted space. While I’ve exhausted my privilege to take literature classes, I HOPE that my former professors recognize the value of this short work and treat it accordingly. This book needs to survive. This book is important. This book is good.

The novel comes out in the US in November 2017 from Grove Press. It was released in the UK in May 2017 by Picador. At least, I think. This was my first time reading a book early, and research is hard.

If you have the chance to read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and like my page on Facebook.

By Eric Shay Howard

Eric Shay Howard lives in Louisville, Kentucky. He's the author of the fiction collection, Crushes, and is a literary editor. He also works at a law firm and is writing his second book. He's a graduate student in the Bluegrass Writers Studio MFA in Creative Writing program at Eastern Kentucky University.

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