Not the End of the World signals the arrival of a major new voice in contemporary American fiction. In much the same way that Kaye Gibbons burst upon the growing literary scene with her first novel about growing up, Ellen Foster, so has Rebecca Stowe, who has already been compared to Carson McCullers and J. D. Salinger. She gives us a painful and hilarious first-personal novel of a bright, troubled girl that captures, as perhaps no other book does, the angst-ridden childhood of many a woman of the Baby Boom generation.
Living in affluent North Bay, Michigan, in the early 1960s, in a house with its own beach, Maggie Pittsfield (daughter of Robert “Sweet is My Middle Name” Pittsfield, owner of a local candy factory) is twelve years old. Unique for her corrosive perspicacity and weird precociousness, she is already deeply depressed and alienated . . . from the eccentricity of her family, the sexual perversity of her school, and the nightmarish banality of her mates. “‘It’s a wonder you have any friends.’ Mother used to say when I still had some. ‘You must become a different person when you leave the house.’ Actually, I was six different people . . . Grandmother said I was possessed by the devil and unless we got him out by my thirteenth birthday, my soul would be lost forever, at least what was left of it. . . .”
In Not the End of the World Rebecca Store render’s Maggie’s splintered personality and formidable aggression, which threatens to implode in tragedy, with painful precision and humor.
“An extraordinary achievement, a perfectly controlled novel that explodes on impact into astonishing and quite lethal shards.”
“With and edge that recalls early Salinger . . . This tantalizingly brief and very assured debut leaves its heroine stumbling through a rediscovered nightmare.”
“At once highly perceptive and endearingly kooky, this novel invites comparison with Catcher in the Rye, but Rebecca Stowe has the assurance of a writer with her own agenda."
“A triumph . . . the verve of [the] narration transforms a familiar story of disillusionment . . . into something rich and strange.”
“An original first novel, shockingly sad.”
“A moving portrait of a girl trapped in herself . . . Sulky, quirky, wistful, it is extremely convincing and finally, moving.”