Reading Challenge: All’s Well That Ends Well
When we read a story, we want a satisfying ending. But what every reader perceives as “satisfying” is subjective.
Typically, there are about four types of endings:
Happy Ending – The main character gets what they want.
Tragic Ending – The main character doesn’t get what they want.
Change of Heart – The main character changes their mind about what they want.
Be Careful What You Wish For – The main character gets what they want but they realize they don’t want it.
The task this week is to determine the type of ending in The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson.
It’s pretty much a given at this point, but spoilers are imminent.
I’ve been on quite the journey with this book. If I wouldn’t have been analyzing it, I might have been able to read it in an afternoon. I found it really interesting that Davidson chooses to have an adult version of the main character relay the story for the reader. It allowed readers to experience both young and older Jake simultaneously in certain scenes, which offered moments of dual-perspectives.
Building up to the reveal was very effective and I appreciated how Davidson treated his readers as intelligent peers. I didn’t feel like I was being overly spoonfed information and it kept me guessing.
In terms of the ending, I believe it’s a mix of two. Jake ended up with a lifelong friend in Billy so he wasn’t lonely anymore. He also learned to stand up for himself, which was really important. In that way, Jake got a Happy Ending. But in the process, he found out tragic information about Uncle Calvin, the man he idolized, without tarnish, for 12 years of his life. Discovering his Uncle’s tragedy through the Ghost Club, was a Be Careful What You Wish For. It’s not Jake’s fault that Uncle Calvin has trauma that he’s unable to deal with, but he probably should have mentioned the ghost hunts to his parents sooner.
To flip the script for a moment, let’s consider Uncle Calvin’s ending. After all, he is the catalyst for the events of the book. Without Uncle Calvin, who knows if Jake and Billy would have ended up friends. It’s interesting, looking at Jake and Calvin’s ending side-by-side, they run parallel except it’s reversed. The ending of the Ghost Club is very much a Be Careful What You Wish For, in regards to Calvin because even though the truth wants to surface, he can’t deal with the traumatic memories and they never fully come back to him. After time passes, he has a Happy Ending because for him ignorance is bliss. The reader feels the bittersweetness of it, but for Uncle Calvin, that’s the only way he can cope.
The entire book experience was not one I was expecting, but I enjoyed it. It’s a great comp. title for my current novel I’m writing and I’m glad I had an opportunity to analyze from a perspective I wouldn’t have thought to apply before. It was also eye-opening to consider the endings for the other characters in the story.