It's not the end of the world, but for Rooney Harris it's starting to feel that way. It's the beginning of senior year, and her mom just lost her job. Even worse, she isn't planning to get another one. Instead, she's spending every waking moment with a group called the Next World Society, whose members are convinced they'll be leaving Earth behind on November 17. It sounds crazy to Rooney, but to her mother and younger brother it sounds like salvation. As her mom's obsession threatens to tear their lives apart, Rooney is scrambling to hold it all together. But will saving her family mean sacrificing her dreams -- or theirs?
emotional and enthralling
This YA contemporary follows Rooney (short for Marina) who is trying to keep her family afloat. A senior in high school, she lives with her mother and her 9-year-old brother, Daniel. Her mother is completely consumed by the Next World Society, a cultish organization that believes they will be taken on a spaceship to a new planet on November 17- about two months away. Rooney would love to only be thinking about her college applications, but her mother cannot be bothered to do anything that is not for NWS, like, you know, buying groceries or paying the bills.
Rooney is struggling to take care of herself and her brother while also maintaining her sanity. After her mother loses her job, Rooney feels the pressure more than ever. Luckily, she has an emotional support system in her best friend, Mercer. When the opportunity arises to travel with her mother to NYC, Rooney accepts with the knowledge that she can seek out her father ask for financial assistance- even though it means she will be subjected to days of NWS propaganda. As she meets her father again for the first time in a while, Rooney is surprised by many sides to what happened, and as she struggles to just make it past November 17, things become more and more complex. Following the before, during, and aftermath, this emotional book was quite an enthralling ride.
What I loved: Rooney completely pulls you into the story. I found this impossible to put down, in no small part because she is so compelling as a character. The way that the NWS (and other similar cults) pull people in is also detailed, which was fascinating to hear about and made it all a little more understandable. The brother-sister bond here was really beautiful also, even though Rooney has had to take on a parental role. There is a lot of love between not only Rooney and Daniel but also between others in their lives, despite so many difficulties, which was really just lovely.
What left me wanting more: Mental illness is brought up in the book, particularly later in the story. However, we do not really get to see how this plays out. In YA books, it is really great to actually see/hear about therapy and observe the method, not only the outcome. I would have liked to have heard about some of the behind the scenes “help” that was given- and also in terms of Rooney and her brother, who have actually been through traumatic events, so should probably see a therapist but do not.
Final verdict: Overall, this is an emotional and compelling story that gives insight into cults and the love of siblings and community. COME NOVEMBER is sure to give me a big book hangover, but I absolutely loved the journey.