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July 12, 2024

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Book Publicity, Book Reviews, And Author Interviews

Five Reasons To Read Where You End By Abbott Kahler

Where You End By Abbott Kahler- Summary

Goodreads summary of Where You End by Abbott Kahler (Review Below):

From bestselling nonfiction author Abbott Kahler comes a spellbinding fiction debut inspired by true events: an unusual form of amnesia upends the lives of identical twins, forcing them to face the indelible, dangerous shadow of the past.

When 22-year-old Kat Bird wakes up from a coma, she sees her mirror image: Jude, her twin sister. Jude’s face and name are Kat’s only memories before her accident. As Kat tries to relearn her history and identity, she trusts Jude will provide all the answers. But as the months progress, Kat begins to fear that Jude may be lying to her.

Recruit. Hunt. Perform or Perish.

Growing up in a sophisticated New Age cult, isolated from society, the girls studied poetry and literature—but also played dangerous games of cunning and savagery, games with dark lessons that followed them into adulthood. Now, with Kat’s mind as a blank slate, Jude invents an idyllic childhood, hoping to erase this history and all the threats it still holds.

As Kat pulls at the threads of Jude’s elaborate tapestry, those threats draw closer. When the past and present finally converge, the twins must risk everything to save both their unique bond and each other’s lives.

Intensely creepy and beautifully written, Abbott Kahler’s Where You End is an unforgettable tale of intrigue, revenge, and moral ambiguities in the quest for redemption.

Before I start, I feel the need to apologize for the Kardashian gifs. But I did it. Because. Sisters.

Reason #1 Writing

Where You End is written to perfection. Jude and Kat are mirror twins (twins that match as if they’re looking into a mirror). Although their physical traits are identical, their personalities are far from it. Jude is the stronger and shrewd twin, while Kat is the more outgoing,  trusting, and open of the two. Working with twins, it would be easy to lean into that lazily, but Abbott Kahler does not. Instead, she creates unique voices for each sister. They come through loud and clear, developing as the story continues (but I will go further into that in another section).

Similarly, Abbott Kahler writes the past and present with distinct styles. The past is more from a child’s perspective, leaving it a bit chaotic, just like a child would weigh through the trauma imposed on them. Meanwhile, the present is written with more clarity of thought. The mysteries and suspense are kept in place, but the characters’ thought process is more sure-footed (outside of Kat’s brain- but again, more about that later).

At times poignant, at times darkly funny, Abbott Kahler writes full throttle.

Their father was gone now more often than he was home. Each time he disappeared, their mother offered a different explanation, each more rancorous than the last…Maybe he had finally delivered on his threat to colonize Mars, who the hell knows?

‘…and I wonder if wanting to love has something in common with wanting to own.’

Reason #2 Plot

Disclaimer: I somehow missed the part that said Where You End is based on a true story. Yes, that’s me. I’m the idiot.

Abbott Kahler

So, yes, this is inspired by actual events. In hindsight, that makes Where You End that much more intriguing. Beyond that, Where You End didn’t need the help. It was hypnotic, unique, twisted, and riveting all on its own. You are given so many different perspectives that, as the reader, you know more than other characters; in other pieces,  you are left in the character’s head. You only know what they do, which can often be confusing because it is confusing for the character at that moment.

This leads the plot down a captivating road, where you are left guessing till the end about some things and wanting to shake the characters at other points because you know more than they do. Abbott Kahler also structures the plot in a circular way, where everything (from the beginning of the present to the story of the past) comes around full circle in a way you’ll never see coming.

I was stunned and horrified when I finished Where You End.

Reason #3 Characters/Sisters

I promised there were some things I would get back to, and here I go! Kat and Jude mirror image twins, which produce a profound connection of body, mind, and spirit, to the point that Jude is the only thing Kat remembers after a traumatizing brain injury.

Where you End Kardashians

Because. Sisters. Mirror Twins.

However, as mentioned above, this does not extend to their personalities. Kat is more trusting and open, while Jude is no-nonsense and closed off. Is this because of life experience or nature? Kat’s amnesia does compound their differences.

This is well explored with Kat often. While she trusts Jude, she is frustrated that the only outside perspective she has of herself is from Jude. Additionally, Kat’s desire to be a typical twenty-two-year-old, not just a traumatic brain injury survivor, comes through clearly. She begins to build a new life, even against Jude’s wishes. However, actions and feelings that occur are foreign to her, complicating her moving forward and her typical personality traits.

Where You End By Abbott Kahler Summary Review

Meanwhile, Jude’s character is explored more through past-time flashbacks. Through this structure, Abbott Kahler provides insight into Jude and the childhood both sisters grew up in. Moreover, this builds suspense regarding the hows and whys of Jude’s current maneuvers. You know there are many connection points, but putting them together will drive you nuts in the best way.

Altogether, you get the twins’ bond and power dynamics, as well as an analysis of them as individuals.

Other main characters that factor into Jude and Kat’s past and present worlds are also delved into. Outside of their childhood, the mother’s arc is mysterious throughout most of the story but comes back with fireworks. This is also true of “King Bash,” the cult leader, and other members of the new age cult. It is part of how Abbott Kahler masterfully brings everything full circle. I don’t want to say more for fear of spoilers.

 

Where You End By Abbott Kahler Summary Review

Thank you to Henry Holt and Macmillan Audio for an advance copy of Where You End by Abbott Kahler, which releases on January 16.

Reason #4 Cults

This section is relatively short. It is a me thing, I suppose. I’m unsure what that says about me, but here we are. I am a sucker for a brilliant cult narrative, and Where You End has it. Through the flashbacks to their childhood (from Jude’s perspective), we learn more about the foundations of the cult and the traumatizing experiences it put children through.

It starts, as many cults do, as a self-improvement foundation. “What you think is.” It is the kind of cult that believes your mind is a way to control everything. If you think it, you can master yourself, your past, and your present. In reality, this is a scam to brainwash everyone into falling in line. For instance, they ask members to give color to their emotions and then go from there.

Meanwhile, they are charging children to recruit others, grooming them on what makes the proper prospects. From there, the more you recruit, the more “power you get.” That power often surrounds participating in child pornography (pictures) at the “big house.” Again, this, and the cult in its entirety, comes full circle.

‘Think of yourself as a monkey, the most intelligent animal, and the potential candidates as rabbits, which sometimes can be tricky and elusive. The more rabbits you gather, the more important you will be come. The more important you become, the more priviliges you will have.’

Reason #5 Audiobook/POV/Timeline/Structure

Having listened to Where You End, there is no way to separate these pieces. Abbott Kahler writes a complex plot that necessitates a complex structure. I can not overestimate the importance of the production of this audiobook. There are a multitude of timelines and points of view.

Kat- Present/car accident (brain injury)

Jude- Before and after (present) the brain injury, as well as flashbacks to their childhood in the cult.

That is two points of view and three timelines to follow. I imagine that reading Where You End provides all the necessary labels for each point of view and timeline. Not all audiobooks match the hard copy. To bring Abbott Kahler’s work off the page, this was a deal breaker.

Fortunately for her, Macmillan nailed it. Every point of view is named, and every timeline is given. Whether it is present, four months after the accident, past four months before the accident, or their childhood days, often labeled as 12 years before the accident (these are examples, not exacts).

Lastly, kudos to the two narrators, Megan Tusing and Samantha Desz. I have listened to both narrate other books and always enjoy their work. They nail the voices of Jude and Kat.

Jude is incredibly complicated to narrate, going back and forth from her childhood self to adulthood. However, it is handled brilliantly.

 

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