Review: How it Ends by Laura Wiess

I was pleasantly surprised by this book, How it Ends by Laura Weiss. It is one of those that just captures you right away. It is a quick read and Weiss does a great job making interesting characters that readers can relate to.

I would classify the novel as having a split personality disorder meaning it could be classified as a Young Adult (YA) and adult book as one main character is a high school student and the other is an older woman.

Hanna (the high school character) is really engaging and captures the essence of a young teen struggling with the heart break of her first love. Every girl goes through that rude awaking moment when they realize their life isn’t going to turn out like a Walt Disney movie and Hanna does a great job of conveying those feelings of disappointment.

Her boyfriend, Seth, is such an asshole though that it’s hard to understand Hanna’s ‘love’ for him at some points, it made it more difficult to like him but at the same time, Hanna did a great job reminding the reader what attracts girls to guys like Seth in the first place at that age–at any rate Seth as a total loser and Hanna just can’t stay away from him.

One of the things Seth points out to Hanna is that she reads too much and lives her life in fiction. Everyone has a story (in most cases STRANGER than fiction) and some times it’s so easy to get lost in someone else’s reality. Being an avid reader I can sympathize with Hanna, it is sometimes hard to see the line between fiction and reality.

In a kind of parallel story happening at the same time Helen, Hanna’s grandma of sorts, is trying to cope with the fact that she is old, dying, and has never really been honest with Hanna about her life. Like a fairy tale, Helen is trying to shield Hanna from the harsh reality of life and love. It is important to Helen to explain why she lies to Hanna about her life so as she struggles with Parkinson’s disease she starts writing a novel which is put on to tape and she listens to with Hanna.

Personally I didn’t understand what was so ‘secret’ about Helen’s life and why she felt ashamed to tell the real story about how her and her husband met but to each their own I guess. Some things were a little out of place in her story but over all it was very touching and very real fears to the character which Weiss did and excellent job with both Hanna and Helen’s characters and making sure their actions and stories were logical and characteristic however I think the only place where Weiss faltered was with Helen’s husband.

In the discussion section at the end of the book there is one question which stood out to me as through provoking and without giving away too much of the novel, the question asked if Lon’s actions were fitting and if the reader was surprised by his choices and actions. I did not think Lon’s character was adequately explored nor were his actions on par with what I thought his character would do. Throughout Helen’s audio book of her life she doesn’t really talk much about Lon’s character and the reader doesn’t really get a sense for who he is and then all of a sudden at the end of the novel he has this huge role–it was a little out of left field for me.

The novel itself read very quickly and was hard to put down because of the pace. Hanna was funny and charming while Helen played the sweet, mysterious mentor to Hanna. This is the kind of book that most people can relate to, male or female, young or old, and even if they don’t have the same experiences as the characters.

My day job is working at a high school, so was hard to not laugh along with her comments about the various clicks at her high school and the typical teenage problems. The high school drama was so dead on with what goes on on a daily basis—-kudos to Weiss!

I love Helen’s sense of mystery and secrecy, I think it makes her very intriguing as a character. I want to know her and know more about her which is what Weiss obviously intended with her novel.

I would recommend that you pick up this book, it is a little on the emotionally heavy side and I was bothered by the ending, but it is balanced with humor and a quick pace which makes it a quick, fun, and easy read.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: How it Ends by Laura Wiess

  • ebook, 368 pages
  • Published August 4th 2009 by MTV Books
  • ISBN 1439164223 (ISBN13: 9781439164228)

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5

Genre: Contempo Literature, YA

Memorable lines/quotes: 

Where is home?
Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness.
Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace

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