Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"How It Ends"

Laura Wiess' books include Such a Pretty Girl and Leftovers.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, How It Ends, and reported the following:
How It Ends explores how love begins, how it ends, how you never really know the dark secrets held in the hearts of those you love, and what happens when you finally do.

The story has two main characters: Hanna, a naïve, hopeful teen who is searching for happily-ever-after in a world that seems wide open and Helen, a beloved, terminally ill neighbor whose world is closing down and who has been lying to protect Hanna her whole life.

On Page 69, Hanna is talking to a friend about a guy she snap-judged on appearance (including the rude tattoo on his arm), and is stunned to discover how much more there is to him than meets the eye:

(I've borrowed the last paragraph from pg. 68 to put it into context.)

And then she said Jesse got it from some hole-in-the-wall place after his mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and almost died, because that was pretty much how he felt about the world.

"When was this?" I said.

"When we were in sixth grade, don't you remember?" Crystal said. "She left in the middle of the semester and took a year's leave of absence because she was so sick. Jesse was what, a freshman or a sophomore?"

"But she made it, right?" I said.

"Yeah, but he thought she was going to die and his dad was totally focused on her and Jesse just kind of got lost trying to deal with it. He started partying way too much and dropped out of school in junior year and got arrested for driving without a license but they went easy on him because of his circumstances-"

"You knew all this and you never told me?" I said.

"Why would you have cared?" she said, amused. "Everybody's got a story behind them, Hanna. You know that. You read."

"Well yeah, but that's fiction. This is like, real."

This is a startling discovery for Hanna - that people can be far more than what she sees - but she's young and doesn't yet realize that this applies to everyone, even Helen, who she loves and trusts implicitly but who she sees as an old, grandmotherly person, and not someone to harbor dark, unsettling secrets.

So while Page 69 is a decent representation of Hanna's voice and mindset it's not of Helen who, knowing she is dying and not wanting to leave Hanna with nothing but shattering lies and unanswered questions, begins her story this way:

"I would not willingly peel back the scar tissue protecting the deepest chambers of my heart and reveal the bruised hollows pooled with the blood of old wounds - the terror comes just thinking about it - but now, facing darkness, I am left with no choice. I love you, and because of that I am going to try and raise the dead."
Read an excerpt from How It Ends, and learn more about the book and author at the official Laura Wiess website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue