I haven’t read a book this creepy, violent, or disturbing in a long time. A.M. Homes is, quite possibly, the most fearless writer I have ever read and The End of Alice is a book that is both horrifying and beautiful. Beautifully written, that is, because there isn’t a character in this novel that is particularly sympathetic.
The novel is narrated by an unnamed incarcerated pedophile. He begins a correspondence with a nineteen year old girl- also unnamed- who writes him the details of her growing obsession with a twelve year old boy.
That’s the book in a nutshell. The old pedophile and the pedophile-to-be exchange letters (although not in the traditional sense) and reveal their dirty deeds bit by bit, culminating in a retelling of the old guy’s crime: the end of Alice.
All the characters are reprehensible: the pedophile’s mother, the young boy’s father. Even the so-called victims are less innocent than you might think they are. As each crime is revealed you think it will help you understand how it shaped the person…but really it just adds to the feeling of itchy voyeurism. And since one guy is in jail, there’s a lot of graphic male/male sex.
So- do I recommend this book? It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Is it well-written? Certainly. Could I stop reading despite the high gross-out factor? No. Whether it says something valuable or useful about the state-of-the-world, I don’t know.