Until the End by Christopher Pike combines all three books in the Final Friends series: The Party, The Dance, and The Graduation
This book is for older teens (R-Rated, >17 years). My youngest daughter asked me what were some of my favorite books when I was in middle school.
Anything from Christopher Pike.
I was really into horror and thriller books, and this is his specialty. I remember the horror and thriller aspects of these books but had forgotten the adult themes. With my 11-year-old, I discussed the one thing to take from this book was what NOT to do in high school. This book mentions alcohol, sexuality (both hetero and homo), and abortion.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): It’s the start of the school year, and the popular girls have decided to throw the best party, one their friends will never forget. But hooking up and hanging out are the farthest things from their minds when the unthinkable happens: Someone doesn’t make it out of the party alive.
The death is declared a suicide, but nothing quite adds up. Convinced there’s a murderer on the loose, no one knows who they can turn to or who they can trust. Nowhere is safe, not the homecoming dance, not even graduation.
The truth will terrify them, but it must be revealed. Their lives depend on it.
One minor spoiler!
My Thoughts: While this book has an overarching murder mystery theme, the main storyline is a coming of age story of high school students. The main focus is the relationships between the characters, and what is going on in their lives as they finish up high school. As each character focuses on their own life, they miss their friend spiraling into a mental disorder. Most of the drama, confusion, and thrills could have been avoided, had they directed their concern towards each other as opposed to themselves.
As Christians, Jesus calls us to follow him (Mt. 4:19). How do we follow Jesus?
Jn 13:15, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
What did Jesus do? He served others.
Mk 11:45, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve … “
The bible calls us to this time and time again.
1 Pt 4:10, “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another…”
Gal 5:13-14, “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
We are called to serve others. If the characters of the book had spent more time on each other and less time on themselves, they would have solved the mystery early and saved some heartache. It is easy to get caught up in what is going on in our own lives. Sometimes everyday life takes us away from following Jesus. Take, for example, the “would-be followers” in Luke chapter 9. They have a desire to follow Jesus, but the first man asks Jesus if he can bury his father before He follows him, and the second man asks Jesus if he can first say farewell to his family. Neither of these is bad, evil, or sinful (in fact they can both be good things). It is not sinful to bury your father or to say farewell to your family. Yet when Jesus asks them to Come follow me, they say, yes! But first, let me go do this other good thing. Jesus answers that they are not fit for the Kingdom of God.
There are non-sinful things that are obstacles from following Jesus. Yikes!
I started asking myself, what are some non-sinful things that keep me from following Jesus?
The thing that jumps out at me first is the concept I hear a lot: self-care. It is essential to take care of ourselves. This is not a sin, but I do think it is easy to take the concept of ‘self-care’ too far that at times it seems we focus mainly on loving ourselves. The bible does tell us to care for ourselves but never tells us to love ourselves. This is because it is human nature. Self-love is mentioned in regards to loving others:
You shall love your neighbors as yourself.
Some might argue that we need to focus more on the self as it seems depression rates are on the rise. I counter that some of this might be caused by too much focus on the self. I think we as a society are spending way to much time on ourselves and not enough time on others. Ever heard of selfies?
Phil 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.”
We all want to make the world better. However, just like the two men in Luke’s gospel, we’ll only do that once our own lives or interests are taken care of. If we wait until we are done with self-care, we would never serve anyone but ourselves. We are a bottomless pit when it comes to serving ourselves.
St. Teresa of Avila reminds us to not go too far with self-care:
Forget your own good for the sake of others, no matter how much resistance your own nature gives. Do not dream of big deeds one day for a neighbor. Do little deeds every day. When the occasion arises, strive to accept work yourself to relieve your neighbor of it.
We don’t have to change the world on a large scale! Remember Saint Teresa of Calcutta tells us, “If you can’t feed 100 people, then just feed one.”