It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit
Justin A. Reynolds
April 5th, 2022
Grades 4 to 6
In Justin Reynolds’ love letter to the stories of his childhood, we follow Eddie. This charming and quick-witted 12-year-old black boy has been grounded on the most important day of the year, Beach Bash. In vain, he sweet talks his stepdad into vouching for him, but Eddie made a deal with his mom. If he takes care of himself, he can do what he wants over the summer. So, Eddie is stuck doing the laundry he hasn’t done in a month and a half, wearing the only clean clothes he has left, his bathing suit. Reynolds’ writing, through the delightful narration of Eddie, twists and turns through memories, tangents, side notes, and assurances that it’s better, in Eddie’s words, “to take your time, to take the scenic route, to take chances.” This style keeps the story feeling fast-paced, fun, and light, making even the task of doing the laundry entertaining. Fortunately, Reynolds doesn’t push that statement too far as Eddie’s house has a blackout, making it impossible to finish his chores. Instead, Eddie ventures out into the quiet suburban neighborhood where he meets up with his friends: Xavier; the wet blanket who was in the middle of giving himself a haircut when the power cut out; Sonia, Eddie’s best friend and the smart one; Trey, the star athlete; and Sage, the precocious younger sister of Trey. Getting into the type of shenanigans 12-year-olds dream about when they are free of parent supervision—candy mountain included. But it’s not all fun and games. The streetlights kick on, the sun sets, but no one in the entire neighborhood returns home. The group of 5 friends must overcome challenges and learn a little about themselves. This novel revels in its dialog, narration, and character interaction. This focus affects the plot as the story barely begins by its last page and ends on a cliffhanger with the group driving off to see what happened at Beach Bash.
A fun, fast-paced, and character-focused novel that is more like the first act than the complete story.