THE END...or Not (Courtney McKinney-Whitaker)

I didn't have much to say about the end of summer, so I put a little twist on the idea of endings and wrote about the ends of books instead.

 I love epilogues.

There. I said it.

I know this is a controversial statement. I know a bunch of people got really upset over the epilogues in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Mockingjay, like they were some kind of self-indulgent authorly copout or weren't realistic or didn't fit with readers' own ideas about what should have happened.

I liked them because, first of all, more book for me. I do not understand people complaining about more book. Here's a story you like and here's...more of it. Then what happened? You don't have to wonder because...this is what happened.

In the case of the two books I mentioned, the complaints I've heard seem to center around the main characters' being okay and living relatively normal lives. Like Katniss shouldn't have married Peeta and had children because the revolution is more important than love and she's bowing to gender norms. She should keep fighting the revolution. Blah. Blah. Blah. Maybe she fought as hard as she could. Maybe she did her part. Maybe she's done. Maybe that's okay. Cut the girl some slack, geez. The fact that she decides to have children at all is a big indicator of how much her character has changed and how much she has healed.

Same thing with Harry Potter. How dare Voldemort really be dead and gone? How dare Harry Potter's scar not hurt? Um, because good did win, in the end. (Spoilers, sorry.) And for the record, I think Harry and Hermione would have been miserable as a couple, and I'm glad things turned out the way they did, though I have always wondered if Ginny felt like a fourth wheel on a tricycle.

My one published novel, The Last Sister, has an epilogue, and I have heard the "Ick, an epilogue," comments. I've also heard. "I'm so glad there was an epilogue because even though they were okay in the end, they could have gotten hacked to pieces in the next moment, so it's good to know they weren't." It is. It is good to know. One reader told me she wished I hadn't left that whole long part out, and I was like, "What whole long part?" She meant the fifteen years between the end of the story proper and the epilogue. I took that as a compliment.

Fun Fact: The main character, Catie, is the same age in the epilogue as I am now.

To tell you the truth, I don't remember when I added the epilogue. It's the only book I've written that has one because some books seem to ask for them and some don't. If an epilogue seems called for, I write it. If not, I don't.

But I'm never sorry to see an epilogue at the end of a book.

There's a good takeaway in all these epilogues. The end is not THE END. The bad things (often books are about bad things because conflict) that happen in one part of your life don't have to define the rest of it.

In all these books, really, really bad things happen. Terrible, traumatizing things. The epilogues prove that the characters do more than survive. They go on to make good lives.

It seems cruel to deny them that.

The Doctor agrees with me. I wish Van Gogh's good things had helped more.


  1. As always, your blog posts feel like the beginning of a conversation that I wish could go on for a couple of hours with a nice pot of tea. However, since that can't happen...

    When you are deep in a world (like Harry Potter's world), you never want the book to end, and I too was deeply satisfied to know what the author saw as the future for these characters. It never occurred to me to complain. Like you said, MORE BOOK! I still get to dream around the canon (Sirius lives!); my imagination is my own, no matter what the author wrote in the pages.

    In reality, we all know that there are no happy endings. In reality, we don't name our children after our favorite teachers or dead parents (or at least, not exclusively) but in books, there's a sweetness to that idea that brings a lovely closure, like chocolate at the end of the meal.

    As for the Doctor, I've never been a fan - can't get past the cheesy - but I watched the Van Gogh (van Goff!) episode with Becca and cried. Wonderful!

    1. Oh, Maryanne, the cheesy is the best part! This episode aired the night before we had to put our dog to sleep, so we sat on the floor with her, watching it together, and I've never been able to bring myself to watch it again, but I remember this part.

  2. Excellently stated. I felt that the epilogue for the Hunger Games series really helped bring it to as satisfying a point as such an evil (can't think of a really appropriate word) world could allow. Most of the ones I've read in YA fiction wrapped things up in a way that made me feel like it was worth whatever the characters had to experience to get there. Thanks for writing this one.

    1. Thanks! I am a big fan of the wrap-up. I like my ends tied neatly in books since they so rarely are in real life.

  3. I like epilogues too. And Harry Potter--- yeah yeah, I heard all of the complaints too, but my feeling was, OH MY GOD we spent years of our lives reading SEVEN books about these people-- I'm glad we get to see a slice of a happy life for all of them in the end.

  4. OH MY GOD. I love epilogues too. LOVE. Even when my last chapter is a chapter, not an epilogue, it still reads like a...well. You know.


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