All the Ways the World Can End

Lenny (short for Eleanor) is a bright, articulate teenager who along with facing the daily obstacles that all adolescents tackle such as fitting in and preparing for life after school, must also deal emotionally and practically with the day-to-day care of her ill father. One of the coping mechanisms she has developed is to list the myriad means that life on Earth could be wiped out forever, as she feels that no matter how much control we try to take over a situation, ultimately it’s out of our hands.

The stress of dealing with her father’s illness is compounded by the fact that Lenny thinks that she’s about to lose her best friend. Added to this is the inability to confide in other members of her family as her sister is away at college and her relationship with her mother has deteriorated because Lenny believes she is more concerned with her job than being there for them. This feeling of isolation means that when she develops a crush on her father’s doctor it’s no surprise that she makes some decisions that are ill-judged and very much inappropriate.

At times, it feels like the author has packed in too many issues, as themes including self-harm and the dangers of sharing personal photographs with strangers could have been explored further, while the inclusion of a love interest towards the end seems superfluous. Although this tends to upset the rhythm of the book at the heart of it all is a quirky character and a touching story.