The Compulsive Reader: How It Ends by Laura Wiess

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How It Ends by Laura Wiess

Fifteen-year-old Hanna's only major concern in life is why hot Seth won't go out with her. She's liked him for a long time, but he still dates other girls and continues to ignore her. Helen is Hanna's elderly neighbor, and has been like a grandmother to Hanna ever since she was small. Helen was always full of stories of love and happiness, but they are false, made up for a little girl to shield her from her beloved gram's dark past.

Around the same time that Helen is struck with a debilitating terminal illness, Hanna and Seth finally start going out...but it's nothing like Hanna dreamed. When forced to fulfill a community service requirement, Hanna begins caring for Helen. Together they listen to an audio book, Helen's true story, and through the pain, suffering, and enduring love of the events, Hanna learns the nature of true love and begins to understand how it must end for Helen.

How It Ends is a truly heartbreaking touching novel. It alternates between two different points of view, Hanna's and Helen's. While Hanna is concerned with mundane, every day things and getting Seth to notice her, Helen is far more worried about death and leaving Hanna with lies, and then as Helen declines, the story of her youth begins. Though many teens may feel that they can relate better to Hanna, How It Ends is truly Helen's story, and how it affects Hanna and forces her to grow from a childish, flighty girl who acts on stupid whims into a thoughtful young woman.

Though it is frustrating to read about Hanna’s infatuation with Seth, who is clearly the wrong guy for her, the relationship is actually quite realistic and reinforces the idea that How It Ends is a coming of age story. Helen's story, which starts in the late 1940's, is realistic and stark, and one that makes you sit up and pay attention. It is a surprising tale of faith, strength, and resilience, and as it forces Hanna to grow, it will make the reader do the same. The ending is a startling one; a potent mixture of love and anguish that won't leave any eye dry. How It Ends is an amazing novel about love, loss, growing up, and redemption.

Cover Comments: This is a nice, simple cover. I like the colors and the font used. The book is also a really great size, a little shorter and a little wider than a regular paperback. Very nice.

Review copy received from Simon and Schuster.


Precious said...

I saw this at the bookstore. It sounds like a good, emotional read.

Cecelia said...

I don't usually go for books that can be described as 'heartbreaking' (at least, if I know they're like that beforehand), but you've sold me on this one. It sounds AMAZING. It also has something in it that I find missing in a lot of YA novels - the elderly and teenagers' relationships with them. I'll be glad to pick this one up - great review!

Jackie said...

<3 So Much

Anonymous said...

I actually got to meet Laura this past summer and this was the book I picked up. It took me a while to get into but I agree with everything you said. I really loved the guy with the bike too.

Debbie's World of Books said...

I loved this book and it's a part of my "keepers" book shelf.