On the Way to the End of the World: A Novel
In 1963, an eclectic group of characters embark on President Kennedy’s ambitious walking challenge.
As the Cuban Missile Crisis eases, President Kennedy is casting around for a demonstration of American prowess when one of his Cabinet unearths an old mandate that US Marines be fit enough to walk fifty miles in twenty hours. Perfect! Kennedy decides to throw down the gauntlet to “today’s Marines,” but before he knows it, he’s sparked a wild fad. The entire country has answered the call, it seems, and for a few crazed winter weeks, masses of Americans will embark on their own arduous Big Walks—the “JFK 50-Milers.”
Yet in tiny Humtown—an isolated mill town in the Pacific Northwest—not everyone who shows up for a hastily organized Big Walk is motivated by patriotism. Not Helen Hubka, an inveterate gossip; not the suicidal Caroline, who months earlier lost her beloved husband during the Storm of the Century. Not ex-soldier/fisherman Jaspar Goode, nor the unknown man in their midst, a collared priest who seems to shift identities at will. Certainly not Avis, a battered teenager running from her terrifying brother . . . with a stolen town treasure. And when the walkers stumble upon the abandoned car of a missing young mother, they rekindle a mystery that soon reverberates among them, exposing hidden truths, talents, and alliances.
Splendidly imagined, with prose that sings on the page, On the Way to the End of the World is an adventure story riven with secrets, a national fairy tale twisted into a whodunit.
Praise for On the Way to the End of the World: A Novel
"[A] masterful microcosm of loneliness, loss, and courage. . . Harun’s spellbinding storytelling perfectly evokes both the menace and magic of human connection."
— Booklist, starred review
“Harun's novel reverberates with nostalgia, psychological insight, and the sacredness of community.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“On the Way to the End of the World is a marvel, a novel as breathtakingly suspenseful as it is beautifully written. Adrianne Harun manages to balance nostalgia, grief, and a growing sense of unease as she tracks her indelible characters on a historic fifty-mile walk that will end a certain kind of American innocence. This is one of the best books I’ve read in years.”
— Jess Walter, author of "Beautiful Ruins"
“Every once in a while, a novel emerges with such rare insights it rewires our perception of history. In brilliant and pitch-perfect prose, Adrianne Harun transports us to the Kennedy era and introduces us to characters so immediate and dear we feel we’re no longer reading but rather eavesdropping on intimate conversations, secrets, and shattering revelations. Powerful and riveting, On the Way to the End of the World grips the edge of one changing world and catches us where we live today.”
— Debra Magpie Earling, author of "Perma Red" and "The Lost Journals of Sacajawea"
"Both epic and intimate, this exceptional novel takes us on a remarkable journey, as vivid and alluring as it is unforgettable."
— Rikki Ducornet, author of "Trafik" and "The Plotinus"