This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
FEAR THE BOY WITH THE GUN.
Interests/Topics: friendship, dance, bullying, gun violence, familial obligations, grief, LGBTQ
Curriculum Connections: English, Dance
Blurb: My high school didn’t have an auditorium. Or a cafeteria. Or a dance room, or drama room. Now that I think about it, my high school didn’t have any large area where the entire school population could meet, unless we crowded onto the bleachers on the track field or in the gymnasium. I went to school in Los Angeles where all of our classrooms opened onto an outside quad. We didn’t have a lot of bad weather to worry about and we spent the majority of our lunch hours sprawled on the grass.
In This is Where it Ends the students at Opportunity High reluctantly gather together in the school auditorium to hear the Principal’s annual start-of-the-term speech. It’s the usual propaganda—they’re smart, they have initiative, they have opportunity (no pun intended). Blah, blah, blah. Only this speech ends differently than all the ones that came before it. This time the doors are locked.
And there’s a shooter.
Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun.
Flavour: “The students around me are motionless, and the buzz has deepened to a murmur of unease. Something’s wrong. What’s happening? Locked. The doors are locked.” (29)
“Two loud cracks tear through the air. The paperweight slips out of my hands, breaking into a thousand shards on the floor. ‘What was that?’ Fareed appears in the doorway, still holding on to his file. … ‘What the f*** was that?’ Far repeats, louder. Though he knows—we both do. We’ve spent time hunting with my granddad and my sister. We’ve watched plenty of movies. Far grew up in a warzone. We both know the sound of gunshots.” (33)
“We check the doors down both sides of the hallway. After the gunshots in the auditorium, the rattling of locked doors somehow feels just as loud. But we make quick work of the doors. And when Sylvia catches my eye, I risk an encouraging smile. Between the three of us, there’s no one I’d rather be with today. Together, we’ll get out. Together, we’ll survive this. Together, we’ll be strong enough to face whatever comes our way. This is where it ends.” (205)