How to Pack for the End of the World

Michelle Falkoff

  • Review
By – October 25, 2021

In How to Pack for the End of the World, Ami­na is start­ing out at her new board­ing school, Gard­ner Acad­e­my, where her par­ents sent her with hopes that she’d stop hav­ing night­mares and stop obsess­ing over con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries. Grow­ing up Jew­ish, Ami­na had nev­er real­ly cared much for reli­gion until some­one attempt­ed to burn down her syn­a­gogue only thir­ty min­utes after her mom had left the build­ing. Ami­na threw her­self into Judaism and inces­sant­ly researched fas­cism and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, fear­ing they could lead to a fur­ther rise in anti­semitism. At Gard­ner, she finds her­self form­ing a club with oth­er new stu­dents about prepar­ing for the end of the world and how to live on in case of mass destruction.

Read­ers will find Falkoff’s char­ac­ters effort­less­ly relat­able. Ami­na suf­fers from a trau­mat­ic event and tries hard to move on. Hunter doesn’t like or trust his dad, who runs a mas­sive oil com­pa­ny. Jo is filled with mys­tery. Wyatt comes from a com­mune, where he and his fam­i­ly lived com­plete­ly off the grid until his par­ents split up. Chloe prides her­self on her suc­cess­ful fash­ion blog. While each of these char­ac­ters is marked­ly dif­fer­ent, each of them cares about the kinds of glob­al issues which could poten­tial­ly lead to the end of the world as we know it. Through play­ing games with each oth­er to mim­ic apoc­a­lyp­tic sce­nar­ios, each of them starts to lose sight of the big­ger pic­ture, which is pro­tect­ing the world as it is today and fight­ing for improve­ment and progress.

Jew­ish val­ues are per­va­sive through­out the sto­ry, par­tic­u­lar­ly those which relate to repair­ing the world. The dis­parate pieces of the plot sub­tly come togeth­er as each of the char­ac­ters grows and matures. They all begin to make peace with the world in which they live and the sense of clo­sure feels sat­is­fy­ing and reassuring.

Eliz­a­beth Slot­nick works in the tech­nol­o­gy space but has a grow­ing pres­ence on book­sta­gram, where she reviews books span­ning across all gen­res. She grad­u­at­ed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia and lives in Seat­tle, WA.

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