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The End of Alice

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  6,842 ratings  ·  842 reviews
From the 2013 Orange Prize-winning author of May We Be Forgiven

Only a work of such searing, meticulously controlled brilliance could provoke such a wide range of visceral responses. Here is the incredible story of an imprisoned pedophile who is drawn into an erotically charged correspondence with a nineteen-year-old suburban coed. As the two reveal—and revel in—their obses
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 18th 1997 by Scribner (first published 1996)
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John Caserta If you recall, when we first meet "the girl," she is having her period. The three women in his life--Alice, the girl, and his mother--seemed to be lin…moreIf you recall, when we first meet "the girl," she is having her period. The three women in his life--Alice, the girl, and his mother--seemed to be linked together by menstrual blood.

The narrator, perhaps, is wanting us to believe the molestation by his mother is to blame for his pedophilia, thus dodging responsibility for what he does to Alice and his other young victims. Many young children are molested by their parents and do not become pedophiles.(less)

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Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
i just realized my "greg gets three" shelf only has one. i am a failure.

greg told me to write a review for this book, and i started to think about it, and realized this is going to be one of those reviews that will reflect poorly upon me when my enthusiasm for the book is weighed up against the subject matter. so - a warning.

***it is an ungentle book. you can stop reading here if you are not into the rough stuff.***

basically, it is about a man in jail for being humbert humbert with a knife. his
Apr 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'll say one thing for A.M. Homes: She is one brave writer. "The End of Alice" stars an imprisoned pedophile who has become pen pals with a 19-year-old woman who is dabbling in a similar avocation with a boy who is at that in-between age where he wants to see a naked girl, but also keeps a collection of his own scabs for snacking on, aged to create different tastes.

The narrator takes the woman's words, visualizes the scenes, and gets curious and jealous. All the while, it's uncertain whether he
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015_sow
Vivid, brutal, unrelenting.

How does an author inhabit the place necessary to construct a work like this? In an interview Homes said, "I write the things we don't want to say aloud." I'd add that she also writes about things we didn't ever want to witness with such intimacy.

The story is a fictional memoir of a convicted murderer and pedophile. His musings are not for the squeamish. There were several times when I had to put the book down for a day or two, the imagery as grotesque as a freshly m
The narrator of this book is a convicted paedophile, serving a life sentence in prison. He starts to receive letters from a 19-year-old girl who believes she is developing a sexual predilection for young boys, and intends to act on this obsession, preying on a neighbour's 12-year-old son. The End of Alice is the story of both the narrator and the girl, but all of it is seen through the narrator's eyes. It is, in fact, difficult to distinguish between what the girl is acually telling the narrator ...more
Jul 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
Ok, I get Lolita. I get American Psycho (even think it might be a work of genius). I don't get this one. Yet another exploration of the mindset of a truly sick fuck. Sections of this book are just gross beyond belief. Ok, it's well described (but I can't even say the prose uplifts or illuminates or sheds understanding in any way -- nor does anything stick because it's a phrase that just had to be written). The content though -- if you're looking for something that sickens you to the stomach, thi ...more
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was ok
i don't really understand why this book has so many glowing reviews on this site. sure, homes has written this well (hence the second star),but... i just don't buy it. it seems to me that she just really, REALLY wanted to shock you out of your cozy, middle-class, suburban old navy socks with this one. she tried excruciatingly hard to crawl under your skin and blow your mind with the depravity of her imagination. well, i'll tell you what -it's just too obvious that that was her mission. i mean, t ...more
Ruth Turner
Nov 17, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned


I doff my hat to those readers who managed to finish this book! And I’m not talking about the storyline. It was the writing that did my head in.

The author uses words, and words, and more words, and even more words, to no avail. So many words that actually say very little.

Here the narrator is speaking of the young woman who is corresponding with him…

“In a case such as this where one has been looking so hard for so long, it is within the range of possibility that a buildup of ocular imaginings
May 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: obssession
The obsession of Humbert Humbert, the sexual excesses of de Sade, and the twisted mind of a Hannibal Lecter. This book isn't for everyone, but if you can handle those things, it's quite a compelling read. Well written and an excellent execution of the unreliable narrator.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Buddy read with MacHalos. And "9. A book that is outside your comfort zone" for my 2016 reading challenge. 

At 19%: So far mostly boring, unnecessarily verbose, lots of vague introspection. Some paragraphs feel like a word game--how many expressions for the same thing can I squeeze into one sentence? Is that really a sign of good writing? Or is the author simple trying too hard to be clever?

At 32%: Odd. It's not bad, once the narrative gets going. Jumps between her story, his story, his pasts and
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I just thought I should make that (the above) very clear.It starts out innocently enough a letter to a prisoner. But then the story evolves into something terrible, horrible. And lots of gruesome. Have I made it clear? This book is about a pedophile. A old one in prison and a new Your asking why did you read this? I do not know. I thought "oh it is less than 300 pages, it should be a quick read and it will be like a Dateline episode". W
Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
The subject matter doesn't bother me, I just didn't like the writing style.
Aug 08, 2008 rated it liked it
It's hard for me to give this book a proper review, mainly because it was hard for me to read. I'd like to say that the reason for this is because of the lurid and explicit detail the author goes into in telling the story of an incarcerated pedophile exchanging letters and depravities with a similarly minded young woman on the outside, and maybe that was part of it, certainly. However, more than anything else, aside from the graphic nature of the storyline and details therein, it's actually pret ...more
Haunting, oftentimes disturbing, sometimes disgusting, and one of the best books I have ever read.
This book has come to be the book with the most profound impact on me. Not just because of the haunting disturbing content, but because the author managed to create a narrator's voice that felt as though he was a real person of flesh and bones speaking to you through the text on each page.
Reading the book I felt like I suddenly shrunk and was placed inside a small cage. And someone carried me aroun
This book is creepy. Hard core creepy, diving face first into a very hard core subject which is pedophilia. A middle aged convict in prison for the murder and abuse of a child currently corresponding with a 19 year old girl who's trying to seduce a young boy in her neighborhood. Dark

If reading about this sort of subject is too much for you then don't read it because the book gets graphic and takes a full dive of what goes into the minds of those sorts of predators.

The main character is a very i
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]

As you've probably guessed by the 5 stars, I loved it. Far more than I expected to. I was particularly impressed with the writing, and that there was plenty of room for interpretation. I don't like being spoon-fed stories. I've included some of my thoughts below, cobbled together from a Chaos Reading group read that we did in 2014. For the full group discussion, including spoilers, go here:

*What elements in the writing style did you like/dislike?
I loved t
 Simply Sam ツ
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disturbing
I hate books like this.

How to rate it?

Should I rate it based on content? Because I tell you, there is some messed up stuff here and I in no way approve any of their actions. I feel like giving a high rating signals I'm okay with pedophiles, rapists, and murderers. I'm not. Just so we're on the same page. But I picked up this book knowing it was going to make me squeamish and uncomfortable. That was the point. To see through the eyes and with the feelings of a person of depraved moral character
Nov 05, 2017 added it
Recommended to Stela by: Rajeed Singh
Shelves: unfinished
I tried to keep an open mind, but I couldn't help comparing the narrative voice with Humbert Humbert's and founding it wanting.

A pity, because I quite liked the other Homes' novel I read, "This Book Will Change Your Life".
Ken B
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book looking for something uncomfortable to read. I certainly found that! What I wasn't expecting was a book so well written.

Oct 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
I suppose I picked up this book because I felt something akin to the emotion of having been "double-dog-dared". I have read a few of A.M Homes short stories (the one that springs to mind is the one about the boy and the barbie doll), and enjoyed them immensely, and greatly admired her writing style and unusual subject matter. Like a lot of people (whether or not they admit it), I do enjoy being horrified, grossed out, disgusted and mildly traumatized by art. Books and movies that people hype as ...more
Caro the Helmet Lady
Have you ever tasted your own scabs? No? Neither did I, but I guess the aftertaste of this story is alike of those - scabs.

Disturbing and unsettling, the book is extremely well written - despite all those literal and metaphorical scabs that made me feel like throwing up quite often, I couldn't stop reading.
It felt like I entered the house full of stink and I was getting inside only to locate and remove the rotting rat or whatever the stinking object was, while wishing to leave the place immedi
Craig Allen
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another reviewer said this was "a great book about terrible things"-PERFECTLY said. This was probably the darkest, most disturbing (and so gross in many, many parts) stories I've ever read-but it was so well written and paced. The main characters are two demented pedophiles, one in prison and one writing to him. One male, one female, but both twisted. Their letters and stories are obviously grotesque but also a kind of cat and mouse game between them. I don't know how to recommend this book with ...more
Don S.
Aug 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on-it
I had high hopes for this book, but I gave up on it quickly. The last straw was this little rant, over 400 words to describe boys eating snacks.

If you like this type of verbal diarrhea, then this book is for you.

"Across the street, the feral pack joyously jams fistfuls of fried, dried, potato, corn frizzle-drizzle doo into their pubescent—hence ever-hungry—chops, cramming the orifice with far more than it can possibly hold. Chunks, giant crumbs of half-chewed food, fall over them like hail, like
Oct 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Talk about pushing the buck - Holmes has really done it with this one. I felt like a little kid sneaking around my parents' room reading something I shouldn't. My cheeks flushed red with each page I turned as I was almost ashamed to be sucked into such a dark twisted world that was as oddly fascinating as it was repulsive. And yet, I couldn't put it down until I was finished almost 5 hours later. I want to be clear this wasn't a smutty masturbatory collection of fantasies for child molesters. Ho ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
wow what do I say about this book../sighs..I hated it. I hated the subject matter and honestly didn't think Id ever be able to read it. I felt sick at every page turn but you see I admit I am one of those people that just has to push herself past any limit out there, just to say I did it and this well this was one heck of a push. If I am honest there a lot of this book I still don't understand and think the words were a little to deep for me like... (view spoiler) ...more
Ugh!!!!! Really really did not like this book. It made my skin crawl. I like A.M. Homes and I have enjoyed her other works but not this one! It is about a convicted child molester and murderer. There are explicit scenes of child sexual abuse. Not my cup of tea.
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
I've always enjoyed A.M. Homes' essays and stories in the NYT and the New Yorker, so I thought I'd give one of her novels a try. "The End of Alice" chronicles the experiences of two pedophiles, mostly through their correspondence with each other: one is a 50+ dude who's been in prison for his crimes, the other is a 19 year old girl from Scarsdale who has a thing for twelve-year-old boys. I'm embarrassed by how quickly I read this book-- I breezed through it in just a couple days. And not because ...more
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
I think I expected more from this book than it could possibly deliver, and as such, I have to take some responsibility for my feelings about it. I asked around for people's recommendations about the most disturbing books they've ever read, and this one came up often.

I read reviews here and plot summaries elsewhere, and I think people overhyped it a good bit. The book is vulgar and unapologetic, yes, but I think the narrative suffers a good bit because of it. At some points I felt the author was
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any willing to go there.
Absolutely devastating, mind-altering, horrifying and wonderful. A.M. Homes tells a story about convicted pedophile/child murderer whose mind seems to spin out of control during his correspondence with a 19-year-old girl trying to seduce a 12-year-old boy. The words and sentences of Homes are so eloquent, so beautiful and yet so utterly disgusting. I couldn't stop reading even though at one point I almost had trouble breathing. Very cleverly the reader is also a part of the story, made to wonder ...more
Mar 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have been wanting to see what all the hype for this book is for a while now. I was bored with the majority of the story but unable to not see it through to its end.

I was disgusted beyond words. It would have been easy for the author to handle the subject in a sensitive way, but she chose to push on the envelope of bad taste. After a while it felt like she was doing a lot of the disgusting scenes just for shock value. There is no rock left unturned here. It is graphic for the sake of shock and
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
Homes has earned her reputation as one of the leading literary voices of her generation, based on her exquisite style, her adventuresome structure, and her transgressive subject matter and characters. I first encountered her short story about two teen boys whose erotic experimentation goes off kilter, and I swear I couldn't believe it was written by a woman. Reviewers of THE END OF ALICE have concentrated on the shocking nature of the characters, a jailed pedophile and his penpal, a college girl ...more
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Chaos Reading: DISCUSSION OPEN! - 2014 Group Read #1 - The End of Alice 60 239 Jan 26, 2015 06:50PM  
question re: the ending 3 131 Sep 28, 2014 11:35AM  

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A.M. Homes (first name Amy) is the author of the novels, This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collections, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, the travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and The Castle on the Hill, and the artist's book Appendix A: An Elaboration on the Novel the End of A ...more

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