how to end a love story book review

How to End a Love Story Book Review

Pub DateApril 9, 2024
Page Count384 pages
GenreRomance, Contemporary, Adult
Goodreads Star Rating3.75
My Star Rating 3
how to end a love story book review

How to End a Love Story Book Summary

How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang is a story about Helen and Grant who meet on a screenwriting job for the TV adaptation for Helen’s book series. But they aren’t strangers — thirteen years ago, Helen’s sister killed herself by jumping in front of Grant’s car. Now they have to work together and explore the more vulnerable sides of themselves while writing.

How to End a Love Story Book Review

The first 100 to 150 pages of this book had me absolutely hooked. The prose was beautiful, the dialogue brisk and realistic, the emotional stakes high. I thought it would be my favorite book of the year, or at the very least my favorite romance of the year. But, unfortunately, that changed. 

I wouldn’t say the story took a nosedive — it was more of a slow descent into something I didn’t really like. 

See, I thought How to End a Love Story would lean more into the emotional complexity of the situation our characters found themselves in. That it would follow them as they try to navigate their feelings and individual issues as well as this newfound friendship and later budding feelings. 

From the very beginning, it was obvious that they shared a connection and that it would be helpful to both of them if they talked more. And this is what I thought would happen — they would spend almost the entire book building something solid and resolving all of these external and internal issues. 

For a good while, this is what was happening. It was tender and emotional and beautiful all around. 

But then, for some reason, they flipped the switch and started acting on their attraction. I would say I started checking out (sort of) when that scene in the basement at the party happened. Up until that point, things were perfect.

The whole middle portion of this book is littered with them having sex or something like it, when — in my opinion — this is where the emotional intimacy should have been built. They should have talked and connected in different ways and learned about each other. The sex part shouldn’t have happened until at least 80% based on their shared history and the amount of healing that had to be done.

And I do understand that perhaps this was an outlet for them and that people react in different ways, but it would have been such a strong book if it gave these main characters more time to connect. 

That’s another gripe I have with How to End a Love Story, actually. The way the sex scenes happened didn’t feel true to the characters. They were overly porny, complete with cringey dirty talk. It felt added in for the sake of social media marketing, so people have some quotes to put into videos, since sex sells books so well these days. But I wish the author didn’t succumb to that.

On most other points, I really liked this book. The prose is completely unlike the prose of regular romance novels — it’s lovely and emotional and interesting to read. The characters felt like actual grown ups. I loved Helen and related to her on so many things — like how she interacts with her parents and how she feels in social situations. It was actually kind of hurtful to see how many people hated Helen’s personality. 

But I also understand that she was a bit too harsh on Grant. I get being angry at him as a teen, but as a grown up with years of therapy, perhaps it would make more sense for her to be merely uncomfortable with him around. 

Overall though, this author has tons of potential and I hope she writes more books in the future. With how well she writes and sets the scenes, I’m super excited for the TV adaptations of Emily Henry’s books she’s working on as well. I’ll definitely read more from her, but I just hope she moves away from the spice hype and writes what she seems to do best — really emotional, gentle romances. 


  • Excellent prose and dialogue
  • Fantastic premise and first ~100 pages
  • Well-written, fleshed out characters
  • Leans too much into physical intimacy instead of emotional intimacy
  • Spice scenes felt out of character

Read How to End a Love Story If You Like

  • Quieter, more tender romances
  • Well-written romance books (that lean into lit fic)
  • Characters that feel like adults
  • Books about writers
  • Lots of spice

Avoid How to End a Love Story If You Don’t Like

  • Romance books that are not rom-coms
  • Lots of open door scenes
  • Third act breakups
  • Third person POV in romance books
  • Traumatic events in romance books

Here are a few more things you need to know about How to End a Love Story before you read it: 

  • It’s written in third person POV, present tense from both main characters’ perspectives. The perspectives switch between scenes within chapters without any markers that signify when it changes. 
  • This book is not appropriate for readers under 18
  • Trigger warnings for suicide, depression, drug use, death of a loved one, anxiety and panic attacks (perhaps more, check the author’s note)

Books Like How to End a Love Story

1. Beach Read or Happy Place by Emily Henry

Since Yulin Kuang is directing one adaptation of Emily Henry’s books and screenwriting another, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Emily Henry. Specifically, I would recommend either Happy Place or Beach Read which are more emotional and introspective than other Emily Henry books. 

There’s a lot of sadness and trauma in both, though they’re more comedic, yet less spicy than How to End a Love Story. My favorite rec would be Beach Read, but I’ve really grown to love Happy Place (as you can see in my review here). 

2. Talking at Night by Claire Daverly

Talking at Night may not be my favorite book ever (you can read my full review here), but it is somewhat similar to How to End a Love Story. Its focus is romance between two characters who have been affected by the same horrible event in their past. The FMC somewhat blames the MMC for what happened, and he blames himself too.

So, if you enjoyed the trauma-laden plot of How to End a Love Story, you will most likely enjoy Talking at Night too. 

3. You Again by Kate Goldbeck 

You Again leans more towards being a romantic comedy, but it’s really sad and introspective at several points. It’s set in New York and follows two characters who meet when they both want to be with the same girl. From then on, they keep finding each other at various points in their lives, and eventually become friends and more. 

I liked You Again more than I liked How to End a Love Story — but both feel very cinematic, the prose is beautiful in both books and the dialogue snappy and interesting. 


Is How to End a Love Story spicy? 

Yes, it is spicy. The steamy scenes begin at mid point and there are quite a lot of them. I wouldn’t say they’re overly explicit, though. 

Which Emily Henry TV adaptations is Yulin Kuang working on? 

Yulin Kuang is working as a director on Beach Read TV adaptation, and as a screenwriter for People We Meet on Vacation TV adaptation. 

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