Book Review: This is How it Ends by Kathleen MacMahon

This is How it Ends by Kathleen MacMahonRating: 4 (out of 5)

Number of pages: 352

First published: 2012

I got this book: from Grand Central Publishing via Netgalley (ebook)

Genre: contemporary fiction

This is How it Ends: What it is about

Bruno Boylan, an American, has just lost his job at Lehman Brothers. It’s fall 2008. He has come to Ireland to search for his roots. But his Irish family isn’t so keen to meet this cousin from America. Addie, in her late 30s, is recovering from a failed relationship and has moved in with her father, Hugh, to look after him. He has had an accident and broke both his wrists. He’s a hospital doctor and he is currently being sued by the family of a patient who died in his care.

Bruno is planning to stay in Ireland until after the elections in the USA: if Obama wins, he’ll return home, if not, he might stay longer. But then he and Addie do meet, and start a relationship. Addie knows it’s likely to be only temporary. Or is it? Then tragedy happens.

This is How it Ends: What I thought

People looking for their roots: my favorite! I’ve done a lot of genealogy research and I love to read anything related to that. In this case, Bruno didn’t really go very far with the research and the story turned more to his relationship with Addie. That was a pity in a way, although the story with Addie was also good.

But… as you can see, there was rather a shift in the story. And I didn’t like that very much. Initially the story was about Bruno and his search for his family, as well as about Addie and her family’s troubles. Then it turned into a relationship and slowly the book moved to Addie and her (new) problems. It didn’t seem there was one storyline.

I still enjoyed reading the book because the story took place in Ireland, which I don’t get to read about very often; I liked Addie and her little dog Lola, who went swimming every day in the sea; I wanted to know whether Bruno would really leave in November, as of course I already knew that Obama would win. And there were other nice bits to this story.

Bruno never came to life as a character, but Addie did and her greater-than-life father did to some extend. Hugh’s story was very realistic and typical in our modern society.

In all, I enjoyed reading this book.

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

9 Responses to Book Review: This is How it Ends by Kathleen MacMahon

  1. Although you gave this 4 stars I think I am going to skip this one, Judith. It doesn’t really appeal to me because of the lack of story-line.
    Thanks for your review.

  2. Joyce says:

    I used to read a few books in English a year. For example I very much loved to read Fay Weldon. I even tried James Joyce ‘A portrait…’. But then I stopped reading in English (and French). However, this review wakes me up: I consider reading this book in English, because of the way you described it and analyzed it, it makes me curious how I will experience the book. Thanks.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Joyce, I also used to rad Fay Weldon! I used to love her books, but I didn’t like her last books very much. I would never read James Joyce! You are a brave woman!

      This book is not very hard to read I think – if you come across it, give it a try.

  3. Tesney Ap says:

    It sounds like an easy going story 🙂 I’m enjoying reading the review 🙂

  4. Stephanie says:

    It sounds like this novel has some good elements. I think the lack of a cohesive storyline would bother me, though.

  5. Shifts tend to annoy me too if they are not well executed.

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