Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Great Unknowable End” as Want to Read:
The Great Unknowable End
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Great Unknowable End

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  257 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Slater, Kansas is a small town where not much seems to happen.

Stella dreams of being a space engineer. After Stella's mom dies by suicide and her brother runs off to Red Sun, the local hippie commune, Stella is forced to bring her dreams down to Earth to care for her sister Jill.

Galliard has only ever known life inside Red Sun. There, people accept his tics, his Tourette's
Hardcover, First edition, 384 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Simon & Schuster books for Young Readers
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Great Unknowable End, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Linda Lomeli Novelist has this information:
Min/Max Grade level: 7 - 9
Lexile: 710

So... around 4.1-4.3?…more
Novelist has this information:
Min/Max Grade level: 7 - 9
Lexile: 710

So... around 4.1-4.3?(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  257 ratings  ·  92 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Great Unknowable End
C.G. Drews
it's a bit early for a review, so a few things this book is about!

→ it's set in 1977
→ lots of music references
→ there's a girl struggling to take her dead mother's place + a boy leaving the commune he's lived in his whole life to visit the outside world
→ Galliard had Tourette's!
→ kinda a Stranger Things mild sci-fi/magical realism vibe?
→ the cover is prettyyy
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee is a historical young adult read that takes a reader to the small town of Slater, Kansas in 1977. Along with being set in the past there’s also a bit of a fantasy vibe involved too as this small town and our teen characters experience some odd phenomenon.

Stella is an average teen that is doing the best she can with her situation. A bright girl she should have big plans for college and escaping her small town except she can’t bare the thought of leaving
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was completely sold by that synopsis and the previous book I read by this author. Sadly, this title was disappointing.

I liked Stella and Galliard well enough. They’re both struggling and trying to figure out what they want from life and it was easy to root for them. There are a few other characters, but no one stood out for me.

Plot wise it was boring. I was expecting all of these odd things {and they happened}, but the ending and so called explanation was a let down. The movement of the stor
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

I have really enjoyed everything I have read by Kathryn Ormsbee. And I didn't dislike this one, but it definitely isn't my favorite of hers either. There are definitely some good points, and some that are... less so, so might as well break 'em down!

Things I Liked:

•The atmosphere and time period were fabulous! The 70s, punctuated by some eerie shenanigans, was quite the trip to re
belle ☆ミ (thisbellereadstoo)
I enjoyed watching Stella coming into terms with her capabilities. She’s intelligent, good with numbers and passionate about sci-fi/spacecraft. With her mother dead and older brother at the Red Sun, she felt like she had to step up. She’s more than just a normal girl who should stay at home to take care of her family.

The interaction between Galliard and Stella felt genuine. Despite coming from different places and growing up with completely opposite ideas, beliefs and environment, they got toget
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am so pleasantly surprised by this book. It was weird but in such an endearing and wonderful way. Kathryn Ormsbee is one of the most underrated YA authors and if you haven't read one of her books, you definitely should.

The individual journeys that each Galliard and Stella take are commendable. They are dealing with realistic teenage issues of the time and yet, issues that people of many ages can relate to. The feeling of being split between love and duty is a universal theme but I adored how t
Celia McMahon
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you Edelweiss for the chance to review this book.

Wow. This book was weird and fun, and surprising.

This story is set is the 70's in a town called Slater, Kansas and involves one girl and one boy whose lives could not be more different. Hey, let's throw in some mysterious phenomena and here we have The Great Unknowable End.

Enter Stella. She lost her mother to suicide and works two jobs, one at an outdoor movie theater and another at a hair salon. She puts her dreams of becoming a space engi
Jessica (The Psychotic Nerd)
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

Short and Simple Review
I originally added this book to my TBR list right after I read Tash Hearts Tolstoy and all I really knew about it then was that it was going to take place in Kansas so I automatically wanted to read it (I'm from Kansas, okay? And there are not enough YA books that take place in Kansas. Granted I want more YA books that take place near the city. Why does everyone automatically think of rural when it comes to
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Great Unknowable End is about self-discovery. Whether it be Galliard and his questioning of his Red Sun life, or Stella's assumption of her motherly role towards her family, both of our main characters are at points in their life where they have figure out who they want to be. When you don't think you can be anything else than what you've known, what you've thought, how do we
Jun 16, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: young-adult

Inspired by The Twilight Zone, you say?

Well, sign me the hell up!
(Note: These gifs are from the episode, Monsters are due on Maple Street. All I can say is... ALIENS!)

I'm a huge fan of this series. I've only watched it the first time when I arrived to America (7 years ago). I was born in the Philippines, so give me a break! I've watched and re-watched the episodes of The Twilight Zone ever since I lived in the United States...

My top 3 favorite episodes would be:
1) The Eye of the B
Melina Topp
May 11, 2020 rated it liked it
3.15 / 5 stars

This book is a lot. It's a historical fiction taking place in the 70's, with Tourette's representation and character's coping with loss and grief. It balances chasing ambitions and passions with reality. Oh and there's a cult. Did I mention the insane weather and unexplainable countdown clock? With intense doomsday vibes???

You could take anyone of these themes, run with it, and write a book. 'The Great Unknowable End' has ALL of that. And more. It's a lot. A bit too much for to fu
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved the beginning/first three-quarters almost beyond words & comprehension. had everything i loved in a book and was kind of mind-expanding in the sense that it was like, wait, we can do this? with YA? like sort of an epiphany of like ohhh THIS is what we should be doing with YA. but then the last quarter or so was so darn frustrating it really let me down and made me really disappointed with the work as a whole. no spoilers in this review, and i still would recommend to anyone who wants to se ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Slater, Kansas, is like most Midwest towns --- record shops, hair salon, an outdoor theater and Red Sun, a nearby pacifist community that strives toward unity, shunning the Outside and its corrupting influence on relationships and the environment. While the commune is far from a mystery to the town, it certainly isn’t embraced, frequently the scapegoat for incidents in Slater. For some, however, tensions with the commune run higher --- like for the Mercer family.

After Stella’s brother Craig leav
Seoling :)
May 18, 2017 marked it as to-read

I am so excited for this book. Why is summer 2018 not here yet?

Chelsea Pennington
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I completely fell in love with this book. I think it shows such strong growth from the author, Kathryn Ormsbee, and is easily my favorite novel by her to date.

The novel is dual POV with alternating chapters. Stella and Galliard's voices were easily identifiable and had clearly been crafted with care. It didn't take long for me to root for both of them individually, and for me to root for the two of them to fall in love!!

Both character arcs were well thought out and made sense. I wished I could j
Mar 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Hmmm... I did enjoy it. The atmosphere and strange apocalyptic happenings (like the pink lightning) were very cool. I really liked Stella as a character, and enjoyed reading her POVs a lot. I also though the character arcs and growth of both of the main characters was well done, and the ending felt satisfying in that way.
The rest of the ending was a bit unsatisfactory though? I honestly don’t know how the whole apocalypse plot could have been wrapped up better, but I think I would have
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
The Great Unknowable End takes place in the 70s and features a cult. Well, they don't call themselves that, obviously, they're a commune if you ask them. 

The story switches point of view between Galliard, who was the first child born in the commune and has lived there his entire life, and Stella, whose brother ran off to join the commune two years prior.

Galliard has parents in the commune, but they aren't called that. Kids are basically raised by the entire commune and belong to everyone. 

Leah Hatch
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee is a historical fiction/fantasy novel set in 1970’s Kansas. The story follows our duel protagonists, Stella and Galliard, as they navigate the strange happenings around their city. Stella is a young woman working several jobs, just trying to get by and care for her family. Galliard is a member of a cult called Red Sun, and is trying to achieve his dream of being the resident artist so he spread
Alison Morquecho
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I received this e-book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The title of this book drew me in. When I read the synopsis I knew I would enjoy this book. And I did. I pretty much fell in love with this book within a few pages. I was intrigued immediately. Galliard, who is one of our POV's, is such a cool character. He struggles with Tourrettes syndrome, and it was so neat to be in his head and see how he thinks. I have a 7-year-old daughter who may have Tourrettes, it's still too early t
Everything changed because Craig moved to Red Sun, the local hippie commune. Stella, his younger sister, is now responsible for earning money for the family and caring for their youngest sister instead of going to college and working for NASA. Galliard, raised in the commune, now sees his dreams of becoming resident artist and creating music come crashing down, as Craig has gained the position instead. When a mysterious countdown emerges on Town Hall, nobody knows what will happen in 2 weeks. Bu ...more
Jack Reynolds
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am a little sad I didn't enjoy The Great Unknowable End as much as Ormsbee's past two YA novels, but I still really liked it. Ormsbee is still a master at creating stories that are incredibly engrossing and well-developed characters you want to root for. I felt like I was transported to 1977 with the rich detail found in the pages, and I connected with both Galliard and Stella. The dual POVs worked incredibly well, and the former's Tourette's was well represented.

There were a couple of gripes
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
The story starts with a girl named Stella Who live in a town near a commune.She has a brother named phoenix ,He has left them for a more glorified life .One day a boy named Galliard finds one of her letters and decides to right back.As they brother wrote back to each other Stella thought it was her brother but it wasn't . It ends with the world ending and they are surviving by living near the commune at a nice not so far away home. My favorite part was when Stella told Galliard to "write back,bu ...more
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-arcs
I wasn’t expecting this book to be set in the 70’s, so first of all that threw me off. Second of all, I expected the weird phenomenons going on in town to be explained. I didn’t really care all that much about the characters or the resolutions of their personal storylines. I wanted to know WHY the weather was acting so crazy! I was disappointed with the end result.

I didn’t mind Stella and Galliard. Kathryn Ormsbee created some well rounded characters, but I just didn’t care about their storyline
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-my-shelf
The whole reason why I bought this book was because I thought the cover was so beautiful. I had no idea what to expect when reading this and wow. This was such an unexpected take on the end of the world storyline. The writing was so atmospheric and you really felt the overarching dread of the impending end. Stella is one of the best characters I've read all year. She was so selfless and hardworking but also funny and smart; all while struggling with a lot of internal turmoil. I saw myself in her ...more
pia (pixiepia)
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faves
4.5* this book was so powerful and moving and it was honestly beautiful in the way it handled such important topics of grief and finding yourself and coming-of-age with such an interesting take on them and such a unique story
Sadly, this didn't live up the high expectations set by the other three books I've read by Kathryn Ormsbee. ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 out of 5
Destiny Soria
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An eerily beautiful book. Like a Twilight Zone episode in YA form.
Apr 28, 2018 marked it as to-read
Gotta love the Cold War era!

Excited to read about a time period I've never read from before.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2019
This is the first title that I have read from Kathryn Ormsbee. The synopsis drew me in, the cover lured me, but the book just didn't engage me enough for me to be drawn in.

I enjoyed the setting and the basic premise, because who wouldn't enjoy a mystery? But for me, I just did not connect to the follow through of the plot.

I enjoyed the characters, Stella and Galliard. But I really loved the family, their relationships, and the whole dynamic. But I was more invested in getting to know the family
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Falling Between Us
  • Let's Call It a Doomsday
  • Rise to the Sun
  • Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee
  • Sorry For Your Loss
  • The Gravity of Us
  • The Meaning of Birds
  • Meet Me in Outer Space
  • Foolish Hearts
  • Knockout (House Arrest, #2)
  • Becoming Beatriz
  • That Weekend
  • Girls with Sharp Sticks (Girls with Sharp Sticks, #1)
  • The Fountains of Silence
  • The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1)
  • A Dress for the Wicked
  • The Lady Rogue
  • Lovely War
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Kathryn Ormsbee is the author of books for children and young adults, including Tash Hearts Tolstoy and The House in Poplar Wood. Her novels have been critically acclaimed, translated into seven languages, selected for the Indie Next List and Junior Library Guild, and made “best of” lists at Amazon, BuzzFeed, and the Chicago and New York Public Libraries. She lives in Oregon with her wife and thei ...more

Related Articles

As this strange summer of staying put winds down, one thing remains truer than ever: Books offer us endless adventure and new horizons to...
61 likes · 28 comments
“Buddy, give me confidence. Janis, give me strength. And, Jimi, please, please give me cool" -Galliard” 0 likes
“It's hard to explain what happens next. It's a thing that happens *to* me. I'm not listening so much as I'm being *sung into*. The music and the words and the harmonies - they push through my pores and into my bloodstream. They're in me. The singer's voice isn't close to anything I've heard before in the Back Room. It's dense and elastic, just the right amount of ragged on its edges. A chorus of harmonic voices backs him up as he hits notes I know are tough to nail. He makes it sound easy. Natural." -Galliard” 0 likes
More quotes…