‘Til the End: A Novel of Murder, Addiction & Lies, by Joseph Patrick33, ISBN 9780997521603
Five out of five stars
As she was about to graduate from high school I told my daughter that there were three live events that marked major transitions. In order of significance they were, being a parent for the first time, getting married for the first time and graduating from high school. I told her that for thirteen years she has been in a structured environment and that was about to end. Furthermore, while eighteen is the age of adulthood, our cultural structure generally marks the end of high school as the beginning of adulthood.
Furthermore, I told her that many of the people that were successful in the high school environment will find themselves overmatched when they go up against the larger environment of the world. People that starred in school will no longer be important people and others that seemed to do very little in school will go on to star in life.
This book is about four friends and talented football players Ryan, Tyler, Avery and Jacob. In the opening it is the football season of their last year of high school and their goal is a state championship. They move through the season rather easily and advance deep into the playoffs. However, they lose the playoff game, leading to a major crash in their lives and plans.
A party where there will be girls and chemicals is planned at a remote cabin in order to lesson the impact. However the crash becomes even more destructive when a drug-dealing boyfriend of a girl made pregnant by one of the four friends shows up and starts a fight. The boyfriend then steals a snowmobile and he leaves with the four friends in pursuit.
They catch up with him, when he pulls a knife one of the friends hits him with a rock and kills him. They dispose of the body in a lake, clean up the scene and make a vow to stand with their story “’Till the end.”
The story describes how the four boys cope with the knowledge of the murder, the reality that not all of them can play football in college and the fact that they are out of school and making their own decisions. Two of them fall into self-destructive spirals of addiction and other dangerous behaviors, while of the other two, one continues football and appears destined for the NFL.
Structurally, the novel is a combination of each of the four boys narrating the events in their lives as well as some sections that are descriptive of the changed context. One of the strong points of the story is that there is no last minute victory in the big game, it is based on failure and how the stars cope with it.
The novel moves fairly well, the narration from the perspective of each of the four stars gives insight into their thoughts, beliefs and emotions as they move through life. This makes the novel much more powerful than if it had been presented as a narration from a single perspective.
As a fundamental level, they remain friends, even though their lives could not have been more divergent. While there is some coming together at the end, there is no great closure of happily ever after. To have ended it any other way would have weakened the book.