Books for Teens: How It Ends

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More People to Love Me
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / Raincoast Books
By Catherine Lo
304 pages
age 13 to 18

Synopsis from Raincoast Books:

There are two sides to every story. It’s friends-at-first-sight for Jessie and Annie, proving the old adage that opposites attract. Shy, anxious Jessie would give anything to have Annie’s beauty and confidence. And Annie thinks Jessie has the perfect life, with her close-knit family and killer grades. They’re BFFs . . . until suddenly they’re not.

Moving from elementary school to high school brings with it a whole new set of challenges, many of which are socially fitting in. How It Ends (affiliate link) follows the story of two girls, Jessie and Annie, and their new friendship. Both new to the school, Jessie with a history of being bullied from middle school friends that now share the same high school hallways, and Annie who moves form the city to the suburbs due to a change in family status. It’s amazing to see how these two girls immediately click as friends. Almost an unlikely pair as Annie seems very self assured compared to Jessie’s lack of self esteem. But both seem to bring the best out of each other.

As Annie starts to feel more settled in the school, she starts to explore other friendship circles. However, Jessie’s desire to keep Annie all to herself, to not let others spoil things, she starts to suffocate the friendship which only leads cracks. Almost out of spite and with a desire to find some acceptance and love that she feels she doesn’t receive at home with her step mother and sister, Annie finds herself getting involved in risky activities. Actions lead to a scenario that devastates Annie and starts to show her the definition of real friendship.

Unlike most books, this story shares two sides of the tale, alternating between the voices of Jessie and Annie. Each chapter, simply titled by the character’s name, takes a moment in time from one friend’s perspective. Sometimes the events are stand alone, like Jessie fighting an anxiety attack. Other’s share an event experienced by both friends, like when the girls attend a party. One chapter giving Jessie’s point of view while a follow-up chapters tells the experience from Annie’s eyes.

The fragile nature of adolescent friendship is beautifully portrayed in How It Ends, even if I tend to lose the character differences in some of the later chapters. The desire to fit in and be liked is one all kids feel, no matter how strong their self esteem. The story also touches on a number of topics kids will encounter in high school like underage drinking, peer pressure, sexual responsibility, rumours and judgement, teen pregnancy and even abortion. Jessie and Annie’s characters are further defined by the different family dynamics illustrated in the book. I love the whole concept of “the grass is always greener” as each girl desires something the other has in their family life, not appreciating the elements within their own family.

How It Ends is a bit of a reality check for young teens without getting too overly dramatic or depressing. You will find yourself rolling your eyes and screaming at the book but also feeling a sense of understanding, love, and remorse. It’s not a happily ever after story, something I think teens will like, but there are elements of light at the end and painful growth.

You can get an inside peek to this book in the following video review, published on our Youtube channel every Wednesday:

Additional Reading: Truth Commission.

You can find a copy of How It Ends (affiliate link) from Chapters Indigo, Raincoast Books or your local bookstore. Visit our Kid’s Books section for other great book recommendations.

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