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How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang
Romance

How to End a Love Story

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Yulin Kuang, on your first book!

by Yulin Kuang

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Quick take

Two writers with plenty of shared history end up staffed on the same TV show... Can they write themselves a new ending?

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish

    Movieish

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SalaciousPeach

    Salacious

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Writerlife

    Writer's life

  • Illustrated icon, EnemiesToLovers

    Enemies to Lovers

Synopsis

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.

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of suicide.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of How to End a Love Story.
How to End a Love Story

One

All things considered, her little sister’s funeral is a pretty boring affair.

Helen Zhang (the good one, the smart one, the boring one, according to Michelle, may she rest in peace) sits in the front row between her grieving parents. If Michelle were here, she would be snickering at something inappropriate, like the accidentally phallic floral arrangement draped over her closed casket. If Michelle were here, she’d be restlessly tapping her foot, anxious to sneak a cigarette in the bathroom, already plotting her escape to an afterparty. If Michelle were here—it wouldn’t be so fucking quiet.

Helen’s mother shakes with silent, rolling sobs and grips her surviving daughter’s right hand so hard, Helen lost feeling in it during the pastor’s welcome remarks. Her father stares at the wooden easel holding Michelle’s sophomore-year photo. His gaze drifts first to the bland church window blinds (not for the first time, Helen wishes they were Catholic, for the vibes), then to the shoes of the pastor. Dad looks everywhere there isn’t someone with a face to look back at him.

Helen used up all her own tears in the first forty-eight hours, shaking and crying alone in her room like some dumb wounded animal until her eyes were puffy slits, pondering existential questions too big to be captured in pathetic words. The well has dried up, and all that’s left is a growing pit of resentment that threatens to swallow her whole. She hates the pastor’s trite remarks trying to imbue Michelle’s short life with meaning, hates Mom’s tears, hates Dad’s lack of them, maybe she even hates herself, but why? Really, if there’s anyone she should be mad at, it’s Michelle

A door in the back of the church creaks open—a late mourner—and a sudden prickling at the back of Helen’s neck says: it’s him.

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Why I love it

I find it difficult to sum up How To End a Love Story. When the premise was first described to me, I thought, there’s no way this is going to work. I’ve never been more happy to be so wrong.

Our story begins with Helen Zhang, a successful author who goes to LA to work in the writers’ room adapting her book for TV. It’s been over a decade since the tragic loss of her sister, and she hopes that this can mark a new chapter of her life. That is until she runs into Grant Shepard—the one who was driving the car that killed her sister 13 years ago—in the writers’ room. Today, he’s struggling with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks, but he’s still the affable and charming guy Helen knew back in high school.

Helen and Grant get off to a rocky start. Working together with such a tragic bond creates friction that seems insurmountable. Over time, though, breaking the ice becomes baring their souls, and a clear chemistry emerges between them. After new secrets from the accident come to light, Helen and Grant must learn to navigate their past and blossoming relationship.

This book delivers in every way: it’s an emotional (and humorous) journey that resonates on every page. Reading Yulin Kuang is seeing a master at work. As she takes you through gut-wrenching emotional lows and highs, she also provides a perfect amount of levity. I feel lucky to have gone on this journey with these characters, who I grew to love as they loved each other. I know you will too.

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