Book review: This Is How It Ends by Kathleen McMahon

Ok before anyone comments, I KNOW this book was published in 2012 but I have a very long list of books I want to read and sometimes it takes me a while to get to them all. So many books, so little time……

Anyway, this book (and the deal its author got) was big news here in Ireland. That of itself made me take a bit of notice, and I added it to the aforementioned list. Then promptly forgot all about it. A couple of weeks before Christmas 2014 I was delivering things to a local charity shop who had a big sign in their window, 6 books for €2. Well I couldn’t pass that up……. I was quite restrained and only came out with 12 books, one of which was This Is How It Ends.

On glancing over my haul when I got them home that morning, this book didn’t exactly leap out at me. The cover and the blurb struck me as aiming at the so-called chick lit market. What’s a good term for that? Popular female oriented fiction?? I stuck it on the shelf and figured I’d get to it eventually. The other night I was looking for something light to read in bed and this caught my eye.

Now while I read a lot, I don’t waste my time on books that don’t grab me. If I don’t care about what happens to at least one character or am engrossed by the plot after a few chapters, then it goes into the bag for the charity shop. The first few chapters of This Is How It Ends didn’t have a page turning plot but I was very taken with Addie and Bruno whose love story this is (its actually one story of many) so I continued quite happily, thinking I was going to get a nice love story and a happy ending, but probably not one that was too taxing.

I was wrong. I am not going to spoil the story for anyone else who hasn’t read it yet, but there is so much more to this book than a sweet love story. Secrets, family history, belonging, family dynamics, death and memory, the relationship you can have with a pet, all of these are parts of this book. After a few nights of reading a few chapters I was impatient to see how it all turned out. So this afternoon, I grabbed it while my daughter was playing and furiously read the final quarter of the book.

Its so moving, beautifully written, the characters are believable and the pace is judged just right. I found myself holding my breath at points, hoping that things would turn out right for all the characters (even Hugh). And then the utterly unexpected direction of the plot floored me. I was in tears for the last couple of chapters and it takes a lot for a book to move me so strongly. I won’t say any more about the plot, but if you want a book that will move you, this is well worth your time.

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