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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
End of the Race by Judith Kirscht tells the story of Annika, a swimmer who is training for the 2008 Olympics: her last chance for glory as her thirtieth birthday looms. During an emotional battle with a miscarriage, her husband Brian goes sailing with two college friends. Brian fails to return home with his two friends, leaving Annika and their six-year-old daughter Sadie devastated. Annika runs to her in-laws, the Wolfsons, for help. Her father-in-law is a man who holds his family together with his forceful personality. The Wolfsons are protective when it comes to their family’s image and status in the community. Annika discovers that Brian took half of their savings, way too much spending money for a two-week sailing trip. As Annika gets to the bottom of Brian’s disappearance, she will discover a side of her hubby that she has long suspected was there, and it has something to do with winning.
End of the Race perfectly captures the drama of domestic life and competitive sports, skewering the hypocrisy of society. Annika’s in-laws are a staggering portrayal of misplaced emphasis on self-image, and the storyline as a whole is gorgeously written and effectively plotted. It is rough and unsparing in its depiction of human flaws and unique in its dissection of a certain kind of social pressure endemic in today’s competitive world. Author Judith Kirscht knows how to get you involved in every moment of the unfolding drama, sustaining the tension and mystery by giving you a sensational story that is also a slice of reality. Kirscht’s nuance and a fine eye for existential angst make End of the Race a highly recommended read for its unflinching look at heartbreak, family, loss, and dreams.