The Week at World's End

The Week at World's End

By Author / Illustrator

Emma Carroll


Historical Fiction

Age range(s)



Faber & Faber




Paperback / softback




1962, London during the Cuban Missile CrisisWhat would you do if there was a real possibility that the world might end?Ray, aware of his parents' building worry, decides to take matters into his own hands. He builds a shelter in the woods behind his house in the hope that he never has to use it. Only to discover that someone else needs it more than he does. An American girl, reported missing, has turned up there... Why is she hiding? And with neighbour turning against neighbour, will Ray be willing to help her? Set over the six days when the Cuban Missile Crisis became public knowledge, this tense, clever thriller might just be Emma Carroll's best book yet!



Friendship, family and fear for the future are woven together in The Week At World's End to create a gripping story. Tension grows steadily as we adventure with Stevie and Ray through the week that was the Cuban Missile Crisis. A week where the world was on the brink of a war that no one could win.

When Stevie finds someone hiding in her coal shed, she races across World's End Close to fetch her best friend, Ray, and work out what to do. The mysterious stranger needs their help to evade the people trying to catch her, all while the news of escalating tensions in the Cold War between Russia and America could mean the war to end all wars is fast approaching. Secrets abound as the friends try to work out what to do for the best, all while trying not to get caught by the ever watchful Nan...

Emma brings the world as it was in Britain in 1962 to life - a world of Mods and Rockers, new household appliances and the dreaded cane. With news focused on America, we not only see the Cold War at work, but the American Civil Rights Movement and peaceful protest brought to the fore. And that is just the backdrop to their adventure!

Stevie, Ray and Anna are all carefully crafted, each with their own distinct voice and characterisations. I love how they draw strength from each other and help each other to grow through their time together. Secrets are kept, nurtured and uncovered building the foundations of trust and lasting friendship. I also loved catching up with some familiar characters from earlier books, too.  

As the news from across the Atlantic worsens, we would do well to follow in the footsteps of these wise children and live life like there is no tomorrow. I shall say no more on this because, spoilers!

The history interwoven within the story is bound to spark curiosity and further research into the events and issues raised, not least the nuclear weapons testing undertaken after the Second World War and the work of Martin Luther King Junior. Great for fans of: When The Sky Falls by Phil Earle Armstrong & Charlie by Steven B. Frank Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah The Star Of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson.

320 pages / Reviewed by Nicola Cleveland, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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