End of the world conspiracies become a very real issue for one teen in the family drama COME NOVEMBER.
Rooney’s mom has been a little off for years. She is obsessed with the idea of the New World. But when she lost her job at a daycare because she couldn’t quit discussing the idea of “departing” with parents, things got tough. Rooney, who already does so much for her nine-year-old brother, Daniel, now has to worry about the bills because Mom has no desire to get another job now that it’s nearly November. Rooney’s willing to sacrifice her dream–and earned title–as the editor for the school newspaper to take on more shifts at the restaurant. While things feel like they are spinning out of control during her senior year, Rooney at least has her best friend, Mercer, to lean on.
Pacifying her mom’s incessant wishes, Rooney agrees to go to New York for a meeting about moving into the New World. In reality, Rooney is making the trip so she can see her estranged dad. With her mom totally losing her grip on reality, Rooney needs someone centered in her life. Maybe–just maybe–it could be her dad. Is there any chance she was wrong about him and his motives for keeping her and Daniel out of his life? What happens in New York and its after effects ripple through Rooney’s world, flipping everything upside down.
With the advertisement of Come November highlighting the idea of the New World, I expected the novel to be deep in the genre of sci-fi. How would the characters “depart” to this new place? What could they expect to find, besides the proclaimed bliss? Would they be able to survive there? Unfortunately, the reader doesn’t learn very much about the utopia. More or less, I’d classify the novel as little more than a contemporary.
Come November focuses more on family dynamics than anything else. At first, I was pretty disappointed that the novel was not what I expected it to be (I’d much rather have some creative science-fiction fun than predictable drama.) But as I got a little deeper into the book, I found ways to appreciate van Dam’s choices. Rooney’s relationship with her mother stood out to me the most. It was difficult not to sympathize with the fact that the young woman pretty much had to run her family while her mother was shutting down. The anger and frustration Rooney held against her mom somehow hit home for me. And while I’m not one to gush over younger kids, seeing Rooney and Daniel’s relationship’s ups and downs hurt quite a bit, and I found I cared about whether or not those two would find common ground again.
Even with an interesting family to follow, 370 pages were too many for the story van Dam established. I wish the pacing had been faster, that more would have been accomplished in a shorter period of time. Some parts were too drawn out, especially when their end result did not affect a large part of the plot.
RATING: 3.25 OUT OF 5 STARS
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?