How It Ends

Catherine Lo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-544-54006-4
After working with at-risk teens for 12 years, Lo writes her first novel, painstakingly tracing the evolution of a friendship between two vulnerable high school students in suburban Ontario. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives, she first introduces Jessie, who has developed an anxiety disorder after being bullied as a freshman. Her plan to keep her “head down, focus on school, and ignore everything else” changes when new student Annie makes friendly overtures. Unhappy with her home life and tired of phonies, Annie is struck by Jessie (“She’s so painfully real that it almost hurts to look at her”). The girls quickly bond, but tensions mount when Annie is drawn to another classmate, the very girl who made Jessie’s life miserable. Lo skillfully shows how the girls’ very different past experiences affect their perspectives; anger and jealousy (mixed with Jessie’s prescription-drug dependency and Annie’s longing for her late mother) complicate matters, and both girls spiral downward before they can learn to trust again. Despite dark moments, Lo’s novel is an inspiring read, revealing the power of courage and compassion. Ages 14–up. Agent: Mackenzie Brady Watson, New Leaf Literary & Media. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/28/2016
Release date: 06/07/2016
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-544-93720-8
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-544-78767-4
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