Review: This Is How It Ends by Kathleen MacMahon

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (August 7, 2012)
Hardcover:  356 pages
Source: Netgalley
Rating: of 5 stars

 THIS IS HOW IT ENDS tells the story of two people who collide with each other just as the whole world seems to be caught between the hope and promise of Obama’s election and the catastrophic collapse of the global economy.

Bruno is a middle-aged American banker who has come to Ireland to escape the financial meltdown in his own country. Addie is an out-of-work Irish architect. Childless and isolated when she meets Bruno, her life seems to be on a downward spiral.

Addie and Bruno’s story is one of nationality and identity, of the power of optimism to defeat despair and the unstoppable march of time. It’s the story of two people who find joy together when they were least expecting it. It’s about the past and the future and the elusive skill of living in the moment. It is a love story for our times.


There’s a weird flow of time in the book; it jumps around. There’s the main flow, the present time. Then there’s the few flashbacks here and there. And every so often, we get this jump into the future with with the foreboding, and comments that lead you to go “oh, so when’s all this going to go down?” Because that’s how the story is formulated, with so many different characters playing narrator, it gets a little weird to really pin down my feelings on this book.

We have the irritable, cranky old father who is very clearly a disliked fellow by his coworkers, his oldest daughter, and most anyone who meets him. And then there’s the visiter from America, the second cousin once removed who is now in a relationship with the younger daughter. He’s an interesting fellow, removed from his home and experiencing the anticipation of the 2008 elections.

The romance of it all is underplayed. They kind of just fell into it. The focus isn’t so much the courtship as it is about the relationship itself. I think that’s what’s pretty great about this book. It’s nice to see that their relationship just naturally came to be as did their romance. And what we get to see is how they move through those high and low points that come with being a relationship.

Another interesting point about the book is the ages of the main characters. Addie is 39, and Bruno is 49, both clearly middle-aged. Maybe this is just interesting because what I normally read is the YA books, which are clearly geared towards teenagers, so the ages of the characters are younger. Books about coming of ages featuring people in their early teens to late teens, sometimes going as far as early 20s. Or there’s the romance novels which seems typically set with characters aged somewhere between early 20s to early 30s. So it was strange to be able to read a book about people who are a decade or two older than I’m used to. Every time I read Addie, I thought of a younger woman. And when you think about it in context everyone these days, they’re always so young. It brings to mind the tagline of the show Cougartown, “40 is the new 20”.

Overall a perplexingly enjoyable read. Do give it a try if you’re looking for something contemporary romance that’s very grounded in reality.


Find Kathleen MacMahon:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Purchase the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Author: Kim

Everything can be made better with a good book or some relaxing knits. 😀 Find me on IG @kimberlyh12 or on Twitter @enervated.

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