The End or Something Like That

Book review by
Joanna H. Kraus, Common Sense Media
The End or Something Like That Book Poster Image
Teen haunted by promise to dying friend in tale of grief.

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Kids say

age 11+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn a bit about heart disease and how the condition affects a teen and her best friend and how vulnerable one can be to charlatans like the alleged medium who convinces Emmy and Kim that they, too, can talk to the dead. Also, some descriptions of Las Vegas, where the girls live. 

Positive Messages

You can can be best friends with someone even if you and your friend have very different attitudes and outlooks. Even in grief, your life must go on.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Emmy and Kim show how loyal and caring best friends can be. Skeeter is a loyal friend and neighbor, who's always there, whenever Emmy needs him, even when she doesn't know it.  Without any fuss, he's thoughtful and caring and helps her rise out of her overwhelming grief.


In a flashback, Kim collapses in the cafeteria line at school when the girls are in eighth grade. Her death is the central issue in the novel. 



There's some kissing. And there's brief description of the Las Vegas strip.


"Hell" is used in exasperation. There's some high school crude talk and insensitive jokes when a teacher dies, and one particularly obnoxious classmate constantly taunts Emmy about her weight, for example, "You look especially fat today, Emmy. Too bad you don't have your good-looking friend around to make you feel better."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are some beer cans around, but there's no scene of any drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The End or Something Like That is a paranormal novel concerning belief in an afterlife and the possibility of communicating with deceased loved ones, as well as coping with grief. It's set in Las Vegas, and there are some descriptions of the Vegas Strip. And teens share some kisses. In one flashback, Kim, the girl with a congenital heart condition, collapses in the cafeteria line at school when she and best friend Emmy are in eighth grade. Author Ann Dee Ellis' previous book, This Is What I Did:, was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults.

User Reviews

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Kid, 12 years old November 17, 2015

It's ok...

The book is ok, but not my favorite. There is about as much violence that is expected in a book like this. There is a flash back to her friend collapsing in the... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the start of THE END OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, it's been almost a year since Emmy's best friend, Kim, who had a congenital heart condition, died. Through flashbacks we see their relationship, scenes of high school life, and the events leading up to her sudden death. Kim convinces Emmy to go with her to attend a seminar on the afterlife, gives Emmy books to read on the subject, and vows she will visit her. Although Emmy tries as hard as she can to make contact, Kim never appears. But other ghosts do. The story switches scenes in no linear order, but through it all, there's the bond of friendship and the devastation of the loss, as Emmy is depressed and takes to hiding under her bed or in her closet and is focused on trying to communicate with Kim. With understanding parents and the help of a loyal neighbor and friend, Emmy ultimately turns from her preoccupation with grief to life.

Is it any good?

The spare prose in The End or Something Like That is moderately effective but doesn't match the weight of its subject matter -- dealing with profound grief and the loss of a best friend. 

From the beginning, we know that the death has occurred and the novel moves back and forth in time. Sometimes this is confusing, as there's no chronological order to the flashback events. But it's satisfying when Emmy, with the help of Skeeter, a loyal friend and neighbor, finally takes hold of her own life.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of teen books dealing with death. Why do you think they strike a cord with young people? What others have you read? How does The End or Something Like That compare? 

  • How important is it to keep a promise made to a dying person? Are there any exceptions?

  • Families can talk about friendship and loyalty. Does being a best friend mean you always do what the other wants?  Can best friends have other friends too?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

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