Friday, July 22, 2011

Review - How It Ends by Laura Wiess

Title: How It Ends (Amazon)
Author: Laura Wiess
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Release Date: 2009
Pages: 368
Genre: YA, Adult Fiction
Source: Library

Laura Wiess, the acclaimed author who once brought us "a girl to walk alongside Harper Lee's Scout and J. D. Salinger's Phoebe" (Luanne Rice), brings us another memorable young woman, this one at the center of an extraordinary novel of how love ends, how it begins, and what it's worth to protect it...

All Hanna's wanted since sophomore year is Seth. She's gone out with other guys, even gained a rep for being a flirt, all the while hoping cool, guitar-playing Seth will choose her. Then she gets him -- but their relationship is hurtful, stormy and critical, not at all what Hanna thinks a perfect love should be. Bewildered by Seth's treatment of her and in need of understanding, Hanna decides to fulfill her school's community service requirement by spending time with Helen, her terminally ill neighbor, who she's turned to for comfort and wisdom throughout her life. But illness has changed Helen into someone Hanna hardly knows, and her home is not the refuge it once was. Feeling more alone than ever, Hanna gets drawn into an audiobook the older woman is listening to, a fierce, unsettling love story of passion, sacrifice, and devotion. Hanna's fascinated by the idea that such all-encompassing love can truly exist, and without her even realizing it, the story begins to change her.

Until the day when the story becomes all too real...and Hanna's world is spun off its axis by its shattering, irrevocable conclusion.

Kim’s Take: Wow! This book was so amazingly addicting! It was such a powerful book and nothing like I expected. It’s a story that will stick with me for quite a while. It takes you through so many emotions and the unbelievable ending had me crying.

The book starts with Hanna as a fifteen year old girl obsessed with Seth, a hot classmate with a reputation. When she finally becomes his girlfriend, the relationship with Seth is a roller-coaster ride. Seth seems to be emotionally abusive and critical and Hanna begins taking the brunt of his hurtfulness and going back for more.

Hanna also has an odd relationship with Jesse, an older guy she met at a friends keg party. Jesse has made it clear that she is too young for him, though they get a little hot and heavy at a party. Jesse turns up at various points throughout the story and you could feel the underlying desire between them. He was such a nice guy and the type of person Hanna should have been with.

Hanna has had a close relationship with her elderly neighbor, Helen, who has acted as her “grandmother” since she was a child. Helen has always been someone Hanna could count on and talk to. Helen has an extreme fondness for animals and insists on feeding and caring for any stray cats that show up and providing a safe place for deer to eat without the worry of hunters. This has rubbed off on Hanna and she becomes distressed every year at the start of the hunting season.

Over the years, Hanna has spent less and less time with Helen as she became a teenager and immersed in typical teenage activities and thinking. And Helen misses their time together terribly since she and her husband never had any children of their own.

As Helen’s health declines, Hanna determines she can help care for Helen as part of her volunteering requirements for school. By the time this happens, Helen, who has Parkinson’s Disease, is confined to a wheelchair and can no longer talk. Hanna plays audio books for Helen while caring for her and one of the stories, How It Ends, pulls Hanna in and gets her emotions flaring.

Unbeknownst to Hanna, it is the love story and unknown history of Helen and her husband. Helen began writing the story for Hanna when she discovered she had Parkinson’s and needed to dispel the lies she had told Hanna over the years. When Hanna asked questions as a child, Helen felt she could not tell her the painful truth and therefore painted a rosy picture of her life. Helen now realizes that if Hanna continues to believe the stories she has been told it will hurt her in the long run and could impede her happiness. Helen loves her too much to let that happen regardless of how Hanna may feel about her when she learns the truth

Though she and her husband had lived through unspeakable things, their love for each other was always strong and undying and saved them from a life of unhappiness, danger, and possible death. Neither could live without the other.  

I was pretty horrified at the ending and not prepared for it at ALL!

There is no one word that would describe this book. It was happy, sad, horrifying, anger inducing, and inspiring. This has become one of my favorite books and one that I could read again and again. I have loved all of Laura Wiess’ books but this one blew me away and is now my favorite from this amazing author. It deserves a rating much higher than a 5!

 Kim’s Rating: 5/5


  1. This synopsis of the book is very exciting. Your review is great! Definitely adding to me tbr pile!

  2. I'm not familiar with this book, but I've read this author before. I'm going to have to look this one up. Thanks!

  3. I want to read this but I'm worried about your being horrified by the ending???
    Was it bad? or just unexpected?

  4. The end wasn't bad at all and was actually reassuring but it WAS completely unexpected!

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