I am always impressed when an author can accurately capture the voice of a child; and not only does novelist Laura Moriarty create The Center of Everything from a child’s perspective, she masterfully matures the voice as the story moves along.
It was the most impressive quality of the book. And the most endearing one. And finally, the most essential one. Not being the type of story to gradually climax, readers are merely allowed glimpses into this little girl’s life, her small low-income neighborhood, and her struggles being the brilliant, homely, poor kid in class. The well-created narrative is endearing because it draws you into Evelyn’s head and you’re routing for her, though you’re not even positive what you’re routing for.
I find it unbelievably irritating when a story doesn’t resolve. I do not like authors who cop out, for lack of a better term, and they don’t finish their stories. They leave their final words and thoughts open-ended, up for interpretation, as though it’s some glorious favor to allow our imaginations to wander. Moriarty does this, and I was left blindly cheering Evelyn on, hoping that she makes the choices by which she seems destined to succeed.
Still, after all that investment, all that growing up alongside her, it seemed such a shame that I couldn’t actually know how things ended for this little girl. I couldn’t be positive that she went to college, I couldn’t guarantee that her mother was getting better, and I couldn’t say with certainty that her little brother would do fine. I don’t know what will happen to Deena and Travis and their little baby Jack. Moriarty simply paints the scenario, and real life experience frames for us how things will probably turn out.
Despite it’s drawbacks and a slow start, The Center of Everything did hold my attention. I was interested in the stories and involved with the characters, and that’s perhaps why I’m most upset at the ending. It is an emotional read, true to life, and one that is worth considering as a heavier addition to your summer reading lists.