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The End or Something Like That

Teen haunted by promise to dying friend in tale of grief.

What parents need to know

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

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."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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.

Parents say

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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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Ann Dee Ellis
Genre:Contemporary Fiction
Topics:Friendship, Great boy role models, High school
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dial Books
Publication date:May 1, 2014
Number of pages:352
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of The End or Something Like That was written by

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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 cafeteria and and they mention a boy who falls of a roller coaster and dies. Also, when on of the characters find out about Kim, the main characters best friend, being sick, she slams the main character up against the wall and asks why no one ever told her. Those tow characters often fight, but that is the only instance of physical violence. It deals a lot with talking to the dead. There's not much language but side characters say h*ll. The main character only says it once, but refuring to the place and not out loud. People call the main character fat and her brother calls someone a loser. There is no drinking and only one kiss and reference to crushes. When the main characters holds hands with a boy she says her whole body feels like it's on fire.
What other families should know
Too much violence