Cover Image: How to End a Love Story

How to End a Love Story

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I received a copy of How to End a Love Story by Yulin Huang from Frenzy Books in exchange for an honest review.

How to End a Love Story is one of my favourite books read this year and it reminded me of what I love about love stories. In this story, Helen Zhang is a bestselling author who finds herself in a writing slump. When her popular novel series gets picked up to be adapted as a tv show, she finds herself in the writers' room, hoping that the change in scenery and pace would be just what she needs to get back to her writing. Little does she realize that she is about to be reunited with Grant Shepard, a man she used to go to high school with; he was also involved in the accident that killed her sister. Both Helen and Grant have had a hard time since that accident, each finding ways to grieve and deal with the aftermath. As they begin to work together though, they come to understand one another, and find healing and love through their newfound connection. But their relationship is one that is full of questions and doubts - their careers, their lives in different parts of the country, and the trauma that continues to tie them together.

This was not your typical love story. It felt like one that played upon so many complicated emotions - grief, joy, family pressure and expectations, and the chances and risks that one must make to try at a chance of happiness. I absolutely loved this debut and cannot wait to read more from Yulin Kuang.

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This is a completely enthralling story -- it hooks you in right away and keeps you involved and caring about these wonderful characters and what happens to them. Helen lost her beloved sister in a car accident many years ago, and while she has moved on and had some healing, we all know the nature of grief and how this will be with Helen for the rest of her life. She is now a successful author of YA books, and when they are turned into a TV series, she is invited to be a writer. Unfortunately, unknown to her, so is Grant, her old friend who was involved in her sister's death, and who is now a screenwriter of some note. They reconnect, but the way is far from smooth. Recommend this one to readers who love a contemporary romance with engaging characters that will make them laugh and cry.

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This book caught me by surprise! It is so difficult to create a realistic enemies to lovers plot that takes place in the present day, but the events of this story really create a realistic situation. Grant and Helen's lives tragically became linked thirteen years ago, and both of them have spent the years trying to move on. However, when Grant is hired to write for Helen's new book to TV adaptation, the two are thrown together, and feelings and secrets come to the surface. The more time they spend together, the more their feelings deepen. But can they overcome their past?

This book is definitely not a rom-com, but a story with a much deeper meaning and relatable emotions. I really enjoyed how Helen's complicated relationship with her parents is explored throughout the book, and how Helen's healing journey is not necessarily linear. I found this book to be very angsty, with a high stakes plot and relatable characters.

I will be reading more from Yulin Kuang in the future!

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It was a total surprise to me that Yulin Kuang was working on the Emily Henry adaptations, but I am now very excited to see that shared vision come to life after reading this debut. It is very hard to write enemies to lovers/hate to love dynamics in a real world context without it feeling trivial or overblown, and this one absolutely nailed it with the gravity of its context. The internal lives of both characters were rich and their actions were always very easy to relate back to the traumas they’d both experienced. The dynamic was very fresh and it was nice to see some avoidant attachment represented in a female protagonist.

I do wish we’d had more time to appreciate the dynamic between these characters more, given that this was a romance novel. The ending felt a bit chaotic to me, and I did sometimes feel like scenes were skipping over one another too quickly. I think a neater ending and less rushing in the scenes with the central couple once they got together would’ve helped this novel to be even more impactful.

I’m very much looking forward to what this author has in store for the future.

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This was eminently readable but I was left unsatisfied and with a lot of questions about the underlying premise. It could have used another thorough edit.

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Thank you Netgalley & publisher for this e-arc of How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang.

This is a romance novel. 3.5* so far.

Synopsis:
"How to End a Love Story" by Yulin Kuang follows the lives of Helen Zhang and Grant Shepard, whose paths intersected tragically thirteen years ago. Helen, now a successful author, immerses herself in her career, securing a role in the TV adaptation of her novels. She relocates to LA for a fresh start, hoping to leave her past behind. Grant, also striving to move on, works as a screenwriter across the country and unexpectedly finds himself working on Helen's show. As they collaborate, old feelings resurface, challenging their attempts to bury the past. Secrets emerge, forcing them to confront unresolved emotions and family tensions. Despite realizing their relationship was never meant to be, they find solace in each other's company, discovering that embracing the present may be the key to finding peace with their pasts.

I had a hard time hooking into this and have only gotten about 1/4 in. I am a mood reader. The writig is good, but I am not feeling it yet. When I finish I will leave an updated review.

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Five enthusiastic stars. I rarely reread, and I've read this one twice and I'm sure that won't be it. The premise alone is so bold, there was zero chance I could resist this book. I love a little bit of edge/darkness/bite/sarcasm in romances, and this one has it in spades. The pining, the spice, the emotional damage, the humor, the mama drama, the third act conflict that wasn't really stupid and frustrating, the thigh......

IT'S ALL JUST SO GOOD.

Best Grant line:
“'You don’t have to be completely healed to be everything I want. To be mine. I love every part of you, you silly, infuriating woman. I love the parts of you I haven’t even met yet.'”

Best Helen line:
"She thinks of the infinitely different love stories they could have lived instead—and she decides she’ll write them all. She’ll fracture this feeling into a million shards of glass reflecting back the same, unbelievable love story so she can capture it for the days when she needs to read it back to herself and to him—when they’re sad, or tired, or annoyed, or hurting. Or happy, she reminds herself."

Annoying rant warning: If I read one more review lamenting how unlikeable Helen is, I may lose it. (You are allowed your opinions, I'm being dramatic.) I will even give you this one- I can see how some might see her as unlikeable or unempathetic. But seriously- enough with the "unrelatable" noise- if we never read anything that we couldn't relate to, we would never learn. Our worldviews would never expand. There is probably a significant group of humans who read this and DO totally relate to Helen (raises hand) and how her brain operates. If you can't relate to that, cool- fine, BUT why is relatability a requirement for enjoyment? Consider that delving into someone else's mind as its own reward, because there are just so so many ways to have a brain. You don't have to relate, but be use more care when using it as a reason for disliking a book.

ANYWAY /endrant loved this book will defend it to the ends of the earth.

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I liked the premise and beginning of the novel, but it just didn't work for me. At first, I really liked the two main characters, Helen and Grant. They come together in the writer's room after a complicated history. Helen has written a popular YA series and is part of the writer's room turning it into a television show. Grant is a television writer and high school classmate of Helen. When Helen and Grant were high school seniors, Helen's younger sister Michelle died by suicide by walking in front of a speeding car. That car happened to be driven by Grant. He has lived with the guilt from being the driver for the past 13 years. Helen and her family have long blamed Grant for what happened to Michelle.

Helen learns early on that Grant is part of the writer's room. She's concerned it will present a major problem for her and devastate her parents once they find out. She asks him to leave, but he stays on. They find themselves undeniably attracted to one another and start a physical relationship. There are a number of spicy scenes. Helen knows the relationship can't go anywhere and puts strict parameters on it, but they both fall in love anyway. However, Helen can't admit her feelings for Grant.

I liked how layered the story is. We learn about Helen's complex relationships with her parents, her mother in particular, and how grief has ravaged their family. Kuang also well illustrates the disconnect between her (1st generation American) and her parents (who emigrated from China) having grown up in completely different cultures. Though I understand the disconnection between them, Helen's immature behavior could be quite maddening.

I liked Helen and Grant at first, but I found both of them so frustrating towards the end. Grant seems like an emotionally manipulative loose cannon and Helen is completely shut off emotionally, or at least she constantly asserts that she is. I didn't really want them to be together. Their relationship felt unhealthy. I like when characters have flaws, but they just did not jive with me.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ebook. All thoughts are my own.

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DNF. I did not realize that this book would contain suicidal discussions (related to the heroine's dead sister that she blames the hero for) and I'm simply not in the frame of mind to read that. Yulin Kuang's writing is lovely and I hope to try another book of hers in the future.

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While this novel deals with some harsh themes around suicide and the grief of those left behind, it is ultimately about resilience and forgiveness. There were spots at which the divergent plot points -- grief/blame, making a TV show, romance, self-discovery got unwieldy and threatened to tangle or explode completely, but every time Kuang was able to pull them back in and weave the narrative back together. A strong debut novel.

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*3.5 stars*

Grief. Grief is a bastard. It can truly destroy a person. And grief was eating my girl Helen aliveee. She was smack dab in the middle of struggle city with no way out. Her poor heart was so closed up… seemingly non-functional as a result of generational trauma, the traumatic loss of her younger sister, and intentional isolation.

And then Grant fucking Shepard waltzes back into her life. Handsome, popular, former high school homecoming king, and the person behind the wheel when Helen’s sister tragically died by suicide. The last thing Helen wants is to work side by side with this man. And even less of an interest is how kind, considerate, and “human” he is. And she certainly could never fall for this man, right?

This was an impressive debut, writing wise. I really enjoyed the writing style and the epistolary parts. I liked Helen and Grant, but didn’t love them. And I didn’t really connect with any of the side characters. All in all, I think there was just too much going on in this book. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the author’s next release though.

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I wasn't a huge fan of this one! I was really excited to read it considering Emily Henry gave her thumbs-up on the front cover. But it read like a script instead of a story. I had a hard time connecting with the characters, no emotions were felt. I had. really high expectations considering this is the screenwriter for EmHen's screen adaptation, but was really let down. this is rated 2.75 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for sending me this book!

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If you want a spicy romance that will also have you feeling emotional, this book is for you!

I will say, please check your content warnings before picking this up, because it does deal with some trauma that plays into how the two MC meet and their dynamic in the beginning. This mutual trauma is also discussed on page. So please, please keep that in mind.

Yulin's writing is so beautiful and it made me so excited to see what Yulin did with Beach Read's adaptation. In addition to the writing, what I loved was the MC's journey to ultimately deal with her trauma and her journey of self-love. Her love story is tied to this journey and just know that there are some bumps along the way -- I'm trying not to spoil anything! Lol. As a fellow TV writer, Yulin perfectly captures the dynamic of a writers room and I really appreciated how she navigated that alongside their love story.

This romance is definitely emo, so if you're only into reading rom-coms, this won't be for you. These two characters deal with grief, regret, and anxiety, so again, check your content warnings.

I loved this book and can't wait to see what Yulin does next!

Thanks to NetGalley for an arc of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Wow. When I first heard Yulin was writing a BOOK I knew I had to get me hands on it. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book ever since, and now that I have read it I can absolutely say it lives up to all of the hype.

I went in somewhat blind, pretty much trusting the author to write a story I’d want to read. I wasn’t expecting the angsty plot line of “boy drives car. Girl TW <spoiler>jumps in front of car to end her life.</spoiler> Girl’s sister is left to cope with the loss and the compounded expectations of her parents in the absence of a second child. Girl grows up and ends up working with the boy and through a vulnerable workplace setting falls in love with the boy who she has always said unalived her sister.”

That is some angsty plot, and under other circumstances I think it could have deterred me. But Yulin expertly weaves tension and resentment and yearning and hope all together to make a downright addictive story.

I sacrificed sleep for this book, and it was worth every second I bargained away.

So why 4.5 ⭐️? There were just a few minor plot points that could have been filled out better, I think. Particularly: that Helen says she has been seeing a therapist for years, but her negative self dialogue and low self-worth are entirely unhealthy and unchallenged beliefs for her. I can’t imagine a therapist wouldn’t have clocked those issues and tried to address them.

Those little details aside, I am smitten with this book. I ship Helen and Grant hard, I learned unite a lot about perspectives on grief and grieving, and the tv production details were handled excellently—not too weedy, but not too sparse, either. This is an easy addition to my best reads of the year list. If you aren’t planning to read it, I’m telling you: change your plans.

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Bravo to Kuang for tackling such heavy trauma and grief while also crafting a satisfying romance. The third person, present-tense narration creates a unique tone that might not be for everyone, but feels very distinct.

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I really enjoyed this book! I am excited to see what comes next from Yulin Kuang. I thought there was a lot of vulnerability portrayed in her writing and the themes of loss, grief, and mental health were handled beautifully. My only critique is about the pacing of the book. At first, I found that I could not connect with the main characters at all, and I felt I didn't know anything about them. Once I got to the point where I felt like I was really invested in the characters and their outcomes, it became rushed and then it was done. I wish there was more of the middle part. Overall, I highly recommend this book, especially if you like a little bit of spice ;)

Thank you Avon and Harper Voyager and NetGalley for this ARC!

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The pacing is perfect, and the set up—the back and forth between their POVs, especially when they’re sharing a scene—helps keep both the pacing and tension relevant to the scenes and overall story. I haven’t read many books that can do this well, so I was happy when this one didn’t disappoint.

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A beautiful, tender, moving and sexy debut. The love story is fantastic, but this book is so much more than just a romance. I loved the way the author wove in the themes of grief, being the child of immigrant parents and anxiety into the story. I was also impressed by how seamlessly the author shifted between the two points of view within the same chapter with no headings. I was never confused as to whose POV it was.

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A great debut from a new autobuy romance author! I loved the premise and deep themes of the book combined with the emotional romance. I was so invested in the characters and their relationship! Definitely recommend.

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I loved the pacing and emotional depth of this book. It is a wonderful option for the romance lover looking for something a little deeper, for readers who enjoy Emily Henry and Abby Jiminez, while still getting a nice helping of spice. It was so interesting to have it set in the television/screenwriting world and see a peek into the industry. I will absolutely be recommending this title.

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