Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: How It Ends by Laura Wiess

How It Ends by Laura Wiess
Published August 4, 2009
Publisher: MTV Books
Following her stunning and critically acclaimed novels Such a Pretty Girland Leftovers, Laura Wiess crafts a riveting and emotionally powerful tale of beauty, destruction...and love.

Seventeen-year-old Hanna has been in love with Seth for as long as she can remember, but now that she and Seth are in an actual relationship, love isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seth is controlling and all they seem to do anymore is fight. If that’s what love is, Hanna doesn’t want any part of it. Besides, she has something else on her mind: graduation. But she’s been ignoring the school’s community service requirement, and now she needs to rack up some hours in a hurry.

Hanna volunteers as a caretaker for her neighbor Mrs. Schoenmaker—an elderly woman with advanced Parkinson’s whose husband can’t always be there to watch over her. While caring for Mrs. S., Hanna becomes mesmerized by an audiobook that the older woman is listening to, a love story of passion, sacrifice, and complete devotion. She’s fascinated by the idea that love like that really exists, and slowly, the story begins to change her. But what Hanna doesn’t know is that the story she’s listening to is not fiction—and that Mrs. Schoenmaker and her husband’s devotion to each other is about to reach its shattering, irrevocable conclusion....

Spellbinding, timeless, and achingly poignant, How It Ends is a story of how love ends, how it begins, and how people and events have the ability to change who we are without our even realizing it.
My Thoughts
How It Ends by Laura Wiess is truly a powerful book in its own right and one that I won’t soon forget. I finished the book in the same manner as I started it – on the verge of tears. I plowed through most of this book at my local book café and I’m sure the crowd around me witnessed a gamut of emotions cross my face as I journeyed through this novel filled with a well crafted plot, perfectly developed characters and a tumultuous end that had be gasping in shock and horror.

The story spans about three years and starts off with Hanna as a sophomore in High School. Her heart is set on getting the attention of Seth, a cool, guitar playing junior. When he finally notices her and they begin a relationship, it’s filled with hurt, betrayal and deceit. Confused by his treatment, she begins a community service project taking care of her terminally ill neighbor Mrs. Shoenmaker who is suffering from Parkinson’s. Hanna becomes consumed in the care for this older lady that she grew up with. They spend their time together listening to an audio book which is a story of love, devotion and ultimate sacrifice. This changes how Hanna begins to view her reality and the choices she’s made for herself, but the ending of this story becomes a reality she never imagined possible.

So many intricate characters made up this novel and each came with a back-story that demanded to be told. Some I couldn’t handle and others I wanted to hear more about. But, Hanna’s story was one the will stay with me for quite some time. I came to really care for her character. There were times that she made decisions that had me face palming, but she was so unapologetic about her choices and stood by what she decided that I couldn’t come to fault her. It was like witnessing my best friend make mistake after mistake and I just stood there dishing out the sympathy. Yes, she didn’t make the best of choices, but her growth and discovery along the way made every single mistake she made well worth the journey.

I know I wasn’t supposed to like Seth’s character. He lies, cheats, plays mind games with Hanna, but at the end of the day I felt sorry for him and hoped he achieved his own HEA.

Karate guy Jesse was shear perfection in this story and every time he made an appearance, I sat at the edge of my seat waiting for him to deliver his swoon worthy lines or actions. I knew immediately that beneath this guy that sported dreads, tatts, a leather jacked and rode a motorcycle was someone that deserved better than what life offered him. The scenes that involved this character were my favorite by far.

The ending in this story is one I never, NEVER expected. There was one scene that made me feel revulsion, despair, hurt, and shock. I’m still not sure if the hopelessness of the situation called for such action, but it is what it is and I was left in angst.

This book is not for the faint at heart, it’s filled with heavy themes and desperate decisions that result in pain. I was drawn into the lives of these characters and journeyed with them as they shared their story. I loved this book regardless of how it broke my heart. I’ll definitely make it a point to read Wiess’ other novels.
5 Snowflakes


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