The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis is a novel about a boy who lives in rural France, comes from a poor family, and tries to disregard the fact that he’s gay. The first half of the novel describes Eddy’s home life, his drunken and unemployed father (who once worked at a factory), his hard-love type mother, his large and trigger-hair older brother, and two boys that bully him (in addition to other family). He is seen in his village as the outcast, the effeminate boy, and so because of that he is bullied, name called, and beaten by others. The second half of the novel focuses on what happens after he has sex with his cousins in a shed. They get found out by Eddy’s mother, Eddy’s father beats him, and then rumors become more solidified about Eddy’s sexuality after one of his cousins tells their secret. Eddy is horrified and tries to bury it by dating Laura and then Sabrina, but when Sabrina tries to have sex with him, all he can think about is other men. Eventually, Eddy auditions, and then gets into a high school with a theater program, which is far away from his home and village. He thinks he’s evaded the accusations, but in the final moments of the novel, we see that Eddy isn’t seen different and is, “…as gay as ever…”, with Eddy laughing in response.
It's a deeply emotional novel that displays Eddy’s internal conflict so well. He recognizes his desires, but tries so hard to tamp them down, which makes it all the sadder to witness. The ending too makes me want to believe that Eddy has become himself, but there is also a sense that the bullying, denial, and hatred will perpetuate. When reading, I felt a particular parallel to another novel, Confessions of a Mask, by Yukio Mishima in which violence, masculinity, and sexuality are all blended up together. And I found this observation to encapsulate both novels, “I do not know if the boys from the hallway would have referred to their own behaviors as violent…For a man violence was something natural, self-evident.” Louis is a master at putting the reader into the mind of Eddy, to interpret the same feelings and moments as him, and to feel absolutely devastated by the way the world treats him.
Final Rating: 5/5
Maxwell Suzuki is a writer, poet, and photographer based in Los Angeles.