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No Parking At The End Times
by Bryan Bliss
Brother John claims that Jesus Christ is going to bring judgement at end the world, which is near. Abigail’s parents believed him, so they sold everything they owned, loaded up a van and moved 3,000 miles away to San Francisco. Now Abigail and her twin brother Alex are living out of a van. They eat in soup kitchens. They clean up in public bathrooms.
Abigail tries to look at the positive side of life. But when her brother begins sneaking out of the van at night, Abigail has to know where he goes. Soon Abigail is trying to keep her family together—but her father and mother are hyper-focused on the church, her brother is consumed with anger, and Abigail isn’t sure what is right anymore.
When the day Brother John said the world will end comes without disaster, Abigail realizes that her parents’ commitment to Brother John and his church may bring an end to her family.
No Parking At The End Times shows one family’s struggle to follow the right path. Unfortunately, their decision to follow a religious leader has leads to hardship. As Abigail’s parents follow Brother John and wait for the end of the world, they stop caring for their children’s needs and the lose the need to plan for their children’s futures. Although it is clear that the parents love their children, they are so focused on Brother John that they lose sight of what is really important.
Brother John is a main focal point of the story, and his uses the words of the Bible to con people into giving everything to his church. Abigail begins to struggle with her beliefs about God and in the end, it is unclear if Abigail’s faith has been destroyed by her experience.
Although No Parking At The End Times has little violence, the book is best suited for older readers because of mature content. There is a scene where Abigail is in danger of being raped. Although it is not directly stated, it is implied that Aaron’s girlfriend is raped not only by a drug dealer, but also by her mother’s boyfriend.
This story is interesting and enjoyable. However, the book revolves around a man who uses God’s word to manipulate people. Younger readers may have a difficult time understanding that Brother John is a false prophet who uses God’s word for his own gain.
- Aaron has a girlfriend who kisses him in front of Abigail, which embarrasses him.
- At the park, a man yells at a bunch of homeless kids, “It is possible for me to rent bikes and not have you sit up here all day jerking off?”
- A drug dealer, Skeetch, corners Abigail. “He pushes me against the sculpture hard, bruising my back and holding my hands above my head . . . He pushes me hard against the cement sculpture and laughs . . . He smiles, letting go of my hands long enough for me to reach out and claw him. His skin rips under my nails. I feel the blood. In pure instinct, I put my knee between his legs as hard as I can, again and again unit he falls on the ground.”
- Aaron’s girlfriend talks about how she ran away from home when she was fourteen because her mom’s boyfriends, “liked me more than her. And she either didn’t care or didn’t want to believe it.”
- It is implied that Skeetch raped Jess, Aaron’s girlfriend. Skeetch also beat her up. “Her face is swollen and splashed with cuts. A red line splits her bottom lip, darker than her hair.” Abigail wonders if Skeetch went after Jess because of her and Jess said, “Fuck that. It’s his fault. You didn’t do shit.”
- When someone makes fun of their parents, Aaron hits him on the nose. “Mike fell back in his chair, blood streaming down his face, onto his shirt. Shane, one of Aaron’s other friends, grabbed him before he could punch Mike again.”
- Skeetch beats Aaron so bad that Aaron ends up in the hospital. The fight is not described, but the wounds are. “His face is broken. There are cuts and bruises and his nose in bent sideways. One eye focuses on me while the other, blood red and beginning to swell, stares vacantly over my shoulder. He tries to sit up, but a painful gurgling sound brings him back to the grass.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- At the park where Abigail and Aaron go, there are drug dealers. One dealer, Skeetch, gives a group of street kids a “small baggie.”
- Abigail remembers a story about when her brother was at a party and had a beer, which upset her. “Aaron tried to hide his cup, his face. But I made it a point to stare at both.”
- The teens in the story use profanity often including damn, hell, shit, and holy crap.
- “Jesus Christ” is used as a profanity.
- Abigail and Aaron get into an argument and Aaron yells, “Jesus, why do you defend them? They fucked up. Big-time.”
- When two teens begin to argue, someone said, “Let’s not ruin a good night trying to figure out which one of you is the bigger asshole.”
- Aaron calls Brother John, “the Body of Christ’s Asshole.”
- Skeetch calls Abagail a, “fucking bitch.”
- Abigail’s parents often remind her and her brother about God’s word saying such things as, “God provides everything we need.”
- Abigail wonders why her brother can’t believe in God. She thinks, “Because maybe if we both pretend for a few minutes, God will see we’re trying and do something.”
- During the church services, people jump from their seats, drop to the floor, and worship God. During one conversation, Brother John said, “It’s the Lord’s world. He does with it as He pleases.”
- When Brother John admits he got the date for the end of the world wrong, he reminds people that God is good. Abigail thinks, “God is God and you do not question that goodness. Everything happens for a reason. We’re supposed to sit down here waiting until God gets ready.”
- Abigail wonders if God is real. “Habit tells me to send a prayer, something quick and silent, shooting into the sky—but I’m not sure that will help anymore.”
- Abigail compares her father to God. “Dad isn’t listening to what I’m saying anymore, just like God. They’re both preprogrammed to a default setting, running forward blindly.”
- Brother John tries to convince Abigail’s parents that they need to focus on God only. When Abigail and Aaron become a distraction, Brother John said, “God ask us to cut away the withered branches in our lives. That’s what I know.” When Abigail’s’ father leaves to go help his son, Brother John said, “go ahead and leave, but God isn’t going to let you come back in.”