What signs would portend the apocalypse for a tween boy? Twelve-year-old Eddie Holloway and his friends Xavier, Sonia, Trey and Sage think something might be amiss when the electricity in their neighborhood goes out and then their families don’t return from the annual Beach Bash party on Lake Erie.
Eddie’s day begins in mundane fashion. His mom grounds him after discovering that he hasn’t done his laundry in weeks, forcing him to stay home from their small Ohio town’s biggest party of the year. Even Eddie’s older brother, the Bronster (“Bronster is what happens when you mix equal parts brother + monster”), and their stepdad of six months, Calvin aka WBD (“Wanna-Be Dad”), can’t convince Eddie’s mom to free him from the drudgery and allow him to attend the celebration he’s looked forward to all year.
Clad in his sole piece of clean clothing—pink swim trunks printed with glow-in-the-dark pineapples—Eddie watches his family pile into the car and leave for the beach, then heads down to the basement to start making his way through 40 days’ worth of dirty laundry. But as the washing machine is filling up for his second load, the power goes out. Eddie discovers that he’s one of only five people in the entire neighborhood who aren’t at the Beach Bash, and as the hours pass and none of their families come back from the beach, it becomes clear that something is very, very wrong.
Young adult author Justin A. Reynolds’ first book for middle grade readers is propelled by Eddie’s hilarious stream-of-consciousness narration. Eddie frequently breaks the fourth wall to address the reader directly, and his storytelling is full of exclamations and asides, such as a three-page treatise titled “Eddie’s Unassailable Insights Into Why Laundry Is a Scam/Hoax/Con.”
It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit isn’t all silliness, however. Eddie’s often-circuitous ramblings stem from his ADHD, which Reynolds depicts with thoughtful care. Just as empathetically crafted are Eddie’s reflections on the changes his family has experienced—his father’s death, his brother’s anger and his new stepdad’s efforts to find his own place within Eddie’s family structure.
Although the novel unfolds in just 24 hours, It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers begging for a sequel. Reynolds offers plenty of laughs as Eddie and his friends team up to save the world—or at least the neighborhood.