Saturday, April 10, 2021

‘How It Ends’ – Best friends can make the worst enemies




Marisa Cleveland

If you have a teenager, will have a teenager, are a teenager, have ever been a teenager, or know a teenager, then “How It Ends” by Catherine Lo is a completely relevant read for you. This novel tackles the tough coming-of-age themes while delivering insight on girl friendships, why they end, and how they overcome complex issues. Told through alternating points of view, the story is about two girls meeting, becoming best friends, and breaking up. It’s messy, heartbreaking, and real, and as I read this novel and formed opinions, I realized why some girls can be friends with large groups of other girls and some girls can’t.

After reading this novel and reminiscing about my own sophomore year, I realized that some people might not know how to be someone’s friend, and that, more than any other plot point in this book, is what caught my attention. Every book is personal to the reader, and I can understand why some people might pick up this book and not be able to put it down until they’re finished. I stopped a couple of times, for a couple different reasons.

Both girls are sophomores. Jessie has social anxiety and is bullied by the mean girls. Annie is new to the school, and she immediately befriends Jessie. Though they seem like opposites on the surface, they share similar personality traits. But Jessie’s jealousy overwhelms me at times. She made Annie the center of her world, and when Annie wanted to expand in a different direction, Jessie let her insecurities ruin their friendship. The fact that Annie knew about Jessie’s anxiety and jealousy, still claimed to be her friend, but also befriend the mean girls who exacerbated Jessie’s issues, proved that Annie didn’t really know how to be a friend. Only when she needed Jessie’s friendship, did Annie see how terrible of a friend she was.

Readers who enjoy young adult novels should
really take the time to read this one. I’ve never
been a fan of first person, present tense writing,
but for this


it worked.

But this is what made the book so great, in my opinion. Annie’s character is the example of someone having a strong voice, wronging another person, facing their mistakes, and learning to ask for forgiveness. Without giving away any spoilers, Annie is basically the character who starts out acting a certain way, doing something to hurt someone, and then doing something exactly opposite of what someone who is your friend would end up doing, and then in the end, the person who she hurt the most is the one who is there for her.

All the characters, not just the main ones, reminded me of someone I once knew or now know, and that makes them relatable. This book shot me back in time to my own sophomore year, the cafeteria, and the way it felt to be surrounded by other high schoolers still figuring out what kind of people they wanted to end up being.

Readers who enjoy young adult novels should really take the time to read this one. I’ve never been a fan of first person, present tense writing, but for this book, it worked. The book is shelved in the teen section, and it deals with bullying, anxiety, partying, drinking,
and sex.

What do you remember most about your high school years? Did you have one best friend or a group of friends?

Join me next time with “Purity” by Jonathan Franzen.

As always, thanks for your time!

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Marisa Cleveland loves to laugh, hates to cry, and does both often. She has a master’s degree from George Mason University and joined The Seymour Agency after she ended an eight-year career teaching students language arts, grades 6-12. Previous to teaching, she worked as an assistant director for a graduate school in Washington, D.C., before settling in Southwest Florida over a decade ago. As a former gymnast, cheerleader, and dancer, she understands the importance of balance, and she encourages everyone to stay flexible. Though she’s a painfully private introvert, she can be reached through her website: or follow her journey on Twitter: @marisacleveland.

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