Monday, April 1, 2024

Review & Giveaway - How to End a Love Story

How to End a Love Story: A Novel
by Yulin Kuang
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: April 9, 2024
Reviewed by PJ

Helen Zhang hasn’t seen Grant Shepard once in the thirteen years since the tragic accident that bound their lives together forever.

Now a bestselling author, Helen pours everything into her career. She’s even scored a coveted spot in the writers’ room of the TV adaptation of her popular young adult novels, and if she can hide her imposter syndrome and overcome her writer’s block, surely the rest of her life will fall into place too. LA is the fresh start she needs. After all, no one knows her there. Except…

Grant has done everything in his power to move on from the past, including building a life across the country. And while the panic attacks have never quite gone away, he’s well liked around town as a screenwriter. He knows he shouldn’t have taken the job on Helen’s show, but it will open doors to developing his own projects that he just can’t pass up.

Grant’s exactly as Helen remembers him—charming, funny, popular, and lovable in ways that she’s never been. And Helen’s exactly as Grant remembers too—brilliant, beautiful, closed off. But working together is messy, and electrifying, and Helen’s parents, who have never forgiven Grant, have no idea he’s in the picture at all.

When secrets come to light, they must reckon with the fact that theirs was never meant to be any kind of love story. And yet… the key to making peace with their past—and themselves—might just lie in holding on to each other in the present.

PJ's Thoughts:

If you enjoy angsty, emotional, complex, character-driven, contemporary stories that draw you in and refuse to let go, How to End a Love Story is a book you'll want to read. I'm still thinking about these characters and I have a feeling I'll continue to do so for some time to come.

Based on the cover, title, and blurb, I really had no idea what to expect from this book other than it sounded interesting. What I found was a fascinating character study, compelling journey, and unexpected romance that kept me flipping pages well into the night. Shocking prologue aside, once the present-day story began it took a while for me to become invested in the main characters. And yet, even though I felt a bit disconnected, especially from Helen, I couldn't turn away from her either. Kuang's writing kept me tethered to the story as she slowly began to reveal layers of both Helen and Grant, two complex, multi-layered characters with one very complicated past. By the time I reached the midway point of the book, I was fully invested with no idea how Helen and Grant would ever overcome the obstacles keeping them apart or if being together was even a possibility. 

In addition to the romance (and it is a romance), this book also takes readers behind the scenes into the writing room and production of the television series being adapted from Helen's books. As a television screenwriter and director herself, Kuang brought authenticity to this facet of the book, immersing me in the atmosphere and process of actual television production. It was like having a seat at the writer's table and being a guest on set. 

The author tackled some difficult, possibly triggering, topics in this book including family death and suicide. It's the first book I've read where the author explores the fallout from a death on both the surviving family as well as the surviving person who is blamed for the death. Factor in cultural expectations, complicated family dynamics, love, and guilt, as well as unexpected, enemies-to-lovers romance and you have a cauldron of emotions waiting to bubble over. It's an emotional roller coaster for both the characters and the reader but necessary for the growth, forgiveness, and healing that have been waiting in the wings for thirteen years. 

I'll be looking for more from this talented debut author. 


Tell me about the last book you read that had your emotions bubbling over.

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, April 2 will receive a print copy of How to End a Love Story.

*U.S. only

*Must be 18


  1. I like your first sentence about the book! I would say The Women by Kristin Hannah. It has it all.

  2. Impressive and captivating novel which would be greatly enjoyed. A novel which transported me to so many places and was emotional and unforgettable was The White Hare.

  3. Thanks for the review.....unfortunately, this book would not be a good fit for me and the information you provided let me know that.....that is important to me and I thank you.

  4. Great review! Really looking forward to reading this debut. You With a View by Jessica Joyce is the last book I read that had me feeling all of the emotions!

  5. That sounds fascinating, although I tend to lean towards less angsty reads in general. Jay Hogan's THE SCIENCE OF ATTRACTION was one recent read with big feels!

  6. Sounds like a good book. I have read and listened to many books with emotional a roller-coaster

  7. This sounds like a thought provoking book. It has been a long time since a book really tore at my emotions. It was IMPATIENT WITH DESIRE: THE LOST JOURNAL OF TAMSEN DONNER by Gabrielle Burton. It broke my heart and I waited over a week to read the last few chapters because, historically, I knew what would happen. It was like losing a good friend.

  8. Just added to my to be read list. Love books like this. My last emotional book was Biography of Friends, amazing story!