Being so preoccupied with her heartache, she hasn't been spending much time with her adopted grandparents. Who aren't getting any younger. And who have dealt with -- and are still dealing with -- their own head and heartaches. Grandma Helen, especially, knows that there are things she needs to tell Hanna, and she needs to do it while she still can.
How It Ends is made up of Hanna and Helen's alternating narratives, as well as a transcription of the audiobook they listen to together. It's a coming of age story and a romance -- multiple romances, really -- a story about family, about aging, loss, death and dying, about obsessive love, and about strength, hardship and about how the connections we make with other people can carry us through fire*. With, you know, bonus Gothic elements.
It's one that won't be for everyone -- many adult readers, especially, will have a hard time with Hanna's bad choices and inability to see much of anything beyond her own situation, and some might feel that the beginning of the book is slow-going -- but it'll hit some people hard.
Hoo boy. I haven't cried so hard since I read The Subtle Knife. We're not talking Book Thief tears pouring down the face. We're talking red-faced-mouth-open-can't-breathe-no-holds-barred crying so hard that I was worried Mrs. Across The Street would hear me and come nosing around because she was "concerned".
I do think that my response was, in part, intensely personal: How It Ends deals with some of my greatest fears, and there are many parallels between Helen's lifestyle and my own. So it resonated. But setting my personal reaction aside, I think it's an extremely strong book on its own -- Hanna's behavior, while maddening to those of us with more life experience, is quite realistic, and the slow beginning is necessary to allow the reader to actually get to know and care about the characters BEFORE the big payoff.
It's one, I think, that could benefit from cross-promoting -- definitely, definitely a good pick for adult readers of the YA.
*Sorry if I got a little overly dramatic there. I'm still fighting back tears about this one (even though I finished it days ago), and also we re-watched Babylon 5 recently, so I currently have Jeff Conaway's voice on loop in my head: "It was the YEAR of fire..." Plus, you know Delenn or Sheridan probably said something or other about carrying one another through fire. I mean, it SOUNDS like something one of them would say. Okay. I've distracted myself away from another crying jag. Back to it.
Book source/other info: Review copy from the publisher; Cybils nominee.
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