Summary by Publisher: 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.
Review: “When happily ever after fails
And we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales”
The End of Innocence by Don Henley
Who doesn’t love a happy ending? And who hasn’t told a “white lie” to spare a friend’s feelings? But what if you had built a relationship on a foundation of well intentioned lies? How would you confess your deceptions to the person you love in a way that she would understand? In How It Ends by Laura Wiess, the terminally ill, Helen, wants to “come clean” with her surrogate granddaughter Hanna before it’s too late.
Reading this elegantly written novel is like looking through a kaleidoscope with a different picture in every chapter. The novel seamlessly alternates between two perspectives: the teenager’s (Hanna) and the senior citizen’s (Helen). Both characters are grappling with major life events. Hanna is sharing a rollercoaster relationship with her boyfriend, Seth. She wonders why love is so difficult – shouldn’t it be happily ever after if you love someone? The dying Helen knows that love is a lot more complicated than in fairytales, but she fears that her secrets will destroy Hanna’s love for her. When Helen finds a way to share her story with Hanna, by listening to an audiobook, the kaleidoscope twists again for an entirely new picture.
Each story individually in How It Ends: Hanna’s; Helen’s; and Louise’s (from the audiobook), is compelling. Collectively, however, the triad is a symphony. This novel is a profound generational love story that will stay with you long after you have discovered How It Ends.