Author: Laura Wiess
Release Date: August 4th, 2009
Published By: MTV
Pages: 344 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.15 stars
Review: When she was young, Hanna was always able to count on Helen, her elderly next door neighbor, for comfort and advice. But by the time she's in high school, she doesn't see Helen as much and is fixated on something else - specifically, a boy, Seth. All she wants is Seth, yet when she finally gets him, it's not like she thought it would be. Their relationship is complicated and hurtful, and so she turns to Helen once more, but in a different way. Helen, now crippled by Parkinson's, can no longer speak or control her motions, and Hanna sits and listens to audio books with her as community service. But there's one audio book that Helen made her for - the story of Helen's life. And what Hanna hears changes everything.
I was looking forward to this one so much because I loved Laura Wiess' LEFTOVERS, as well as SUCH A PRETTY GIRL. However, I didn't like the latter as much as I adored the former, and while I still enjoyed this one, I liked it even less. It just didn't hook me as much as I wanted to, and some elements of the story didn't work for me. This was one of those books where I wanted to like it but couldn't.
One big thing that bothered me was Hanna. She wasn't someone I could connect to, because at times she felt whiny and irritating. It was hard to understand her, too; it didn't make sense to me why she didn't just leave Seth, why she didn't listen to the warnings he gave her, why she was so infatuated and obsessed in the first place. I realize this happens to people in real life, but her motivations weren't explained clearly enough for me to understand why.
I did like Helen, but the story she told on the audio book was strange. It felt like something out of a science-fiction novel, and a lot of the times when I was reading it, I wished the book would switch back to its normal narration. If her story was by itself, I might have enjoyed it more, but as it was, it merely felt odd and out of place. I think this might have worked, but it just wasn't pulled off as well as it could have been.
I will say that I did enjoy this book. I don't want my readers to think that this is a "bad" book or something, because it really was excellent. Laura Wiess' signature style was definitely here, with strong writing that packs a powerful punch. She's a master at wreaking havoc with your emotions, and for that, I liked this book. It just disappointed me because I had such high expectations. If you're read her other books and loved them, then this one might disappoint you too, but if not, HOW IT ENDS might be for you.