Coyle, Katie. Vivian Apple at the End of the World. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015. Print.
The evangelical Church of America prophesied the end of the world. Vivian didn’t believe them, but her parents and hundreds of thousands of other people did. One morning Vivian returns home from a “Rapture party” to find that her parents are nowhere to be found and there are two giant holes in their bedroom ceiling. It would seem that they had been raptured, along with the thousands of other believers, but Vivian still doesn’t believe it. She and her friends Harp and Peter take it upon themselves to travel across what’s left of America to find out what has really happened.
I’ll just say this right off the bat: I cannot see myself ever teaching this in school, or anyone else for that matter. I kind of hated this novel and the only reason I finished it is because it’s just over 250 pages long and I was able to read the whole thing in a day. I was hate reading by the end, kind of like the way I click on gossip articles about detestable celebrities I really don’t care about.
I am not easily offended by any means. I’m kind of known for not caring or judging others. However, Vivian Apple is the most close-minded, judgmental protagonists I have ever read about. She had absolutely no respect for people of other belief systems. The novel deals with religion quite a bit – that’s obvious from the description – but I wasn’t expecting such heavy-handed anti-religion…I can’t think of a better word than propaganda. I am all for people believing or not believing whatever they want to or don’t want to. I went over the edge during one scene in particular. Vivian spends the majority of the book idolizing this teacher she had in high school. She’s totally cool and open-minded, but then the unthinkable happens. This teacher is revealed to be Catholic. Vivian has just driven across the country to see this person who she has always loved, and suddenly such an insignificant revelation causes Vivian to storm out of her house and blame this teacher for the Crusades. What?? It was also obvious that the Church of America was a play on Christianity, which is fine, but it was so excessive that it was extremely frustrating. Can’t we all just believe what we want to believe and stop judging each other so much? Please?
Apart from the religion stuff, it wasn’t terrible. It was interesting to follow these characters across small-town America and read about all of the interesting people they met, although the overarching plot was a bit predictable at times.
I can’t see how this book would be beneficial for adolescents to read, and not because I didn’t agree with some of the author’s choices. I just don’t think it really has a message for its readers. There isn’t diversity of any kind, it isn’t a coming of age story, and the protagonists aren’t really relatable. This may be a book that would entertain a select group of individuals, but nothing more than that. I would not teach this in a school and I would not recommend that anyone else teach it.