Following her powerful memoir, With or Without You, Domenica Ruta's debut novel, Last Day, combines her beautiful use of language with a thoughtful and compelling story.
Last Day, an ancient commemoration, is celebrated worldwide every May 28. It's based in prophecies about an apocryphal end of the world, though it is now mostly observed with barbecues, bonfires and overindulgence.
Various characters prepare for their Last Day celebrations, including Sarah, a teen struggling to figure out who she is and how she fits into the world. She's infatuated with an older man, Kurt, who owns a tattoo shop called Redemption that offers free tattoos on Last Day. Across town, Karen is an unstable but enthusiastic woman who lives in a group home and works at the YMCA. One of her passions is studying the occult, and her friend Rosette is a member of a religious group called Last Kingdom on Earth, which broke off from the Jehovah's Witnesses. Bear looks down on the earth from above, as an American astronaut on the International Space Station with his Russian colleague Svec and Yui, a wealthy Japanese space tourist.
Ruta paints a vivid picture of each person's experiences, as the narrative shifts from one to another, weaving together an intricate picture of the individuals and the society. Engrossing and thought-provoking, this unusual novel leaves the reader musing on the fate of humanity and our planet, as the characters all prepare for the annual end of the world. --Suzan L. Jackson, freelance writer and author of Book By Book blog