It's the End of the World and I'm in My Bathing Suit: 11/22/22
It's the End of the World and I'm in My Bathing Suit by Justin A. Reynolds (2022) is truth in advertising. I really, truly, expected it to be more of a metaphorical title, akin to Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds and Raúl the Third (2022). But it's not, despite being written in a very similar tone.
Eddie Gordon who has ADHD hates doing his laundry. His mother and stepfather insist that he's old enough to do it himself. So for the summer he has hatched the perfect plan: he'll wear everything he owns even if it looks silly or is out of season until the day of the Beach Bash. That day he'll have his swim trunks. For the remaining couple days of summer, he'll do his laundry.
But... on the day of the Beach Bash his mother finally figures out what he's been up to. Or, I suspect, she knew all along and has waited for this day to point out just how stupid an idea his plan was. Regardless, he ends up stuck at home, by himself, doing all the laundry he should have been doing while the rest of his family (and most of the neighborhood) leave for the annual Beach Bash.
And that's when the power goes out. The power going out is written in such a way that an older reader — someone who has experienced a transformer blowing — will recognize a possible source of the outage. The power being out at first just means Eddie's not going to finish his laundry. He now has no hope of making it to any of the Beach Bash this year.
Even after Eddie hooks up with a few other kids who have been left behind for one reason or another, the novel seems rather pedestrian. It's kids seeing what they can get away with while everyone else is away. None of them even try calling their families until of course all their cellphones' are drained from playing games on them.
That's the set up. It seems like any other end of summer novel of youthful shenanigans. But it isn't. The last fifty pages or so are such a paradigm shift that I was actually shocked down to my very core. This reaction is again, despite the straightforward, no nonsense title. Middle grade titles are often full of histrionics. So I tend to take them with a grain of salt. This one, though, damn!
I hope there's a sequel someday. Right now it ends on a banger of a cliff hanger.
Like his other novels, It's the End of the World and I'm in My Bathing Suit sits on the Road Narrative Spectrum. Eddie and his neighbors as children without much in the way of tools or agency are marginalized travelers (66). Their destination is home (66) in that they are stuck at home and want to get their families safely home. Their route is the Blue Highway, through the neighborhood streets as they try to figure out what's going on and what they should do.