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How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

From the acclaimed screenwriter of Emily Henry's The People We Meet on Vacation

Start reading How to End a Love Story and enter for the chance to win a copy! On sale April 9, 2024. Discover this book and more at harpercollins.ca

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.

Hushed whispers dash up the aisle, and even though Helen tells herself not to turn her head, not to look—Mom isn’t so lost in her grief as to miss the sudden shift of attention in the room. She turns and lets out a dramatic wail that Helen can’t help feeling embarrassed by.

Helen turns around and her eyes confirm, it’s Grant Shepard, Grant Fucking Shepard. Class president, homecoming king, lover of parties and friends and teachers and football. And killer of my sister.

That last part seems unlikely to hold up in a court of law—there were enough eyewitnesses to suggest sixteen-year-old Michelle Zhang darted in front of eighteen-year-old Grant Shepard’s SUV shortly after two a.m. last Friday (and caused a grim traffic jam on Route 22) on purpose. There were enough “key search terms” in Michelle’s internet history to confirm it. And the most humiliating blow for their parents: there was enough in the toxicology report to warrant the phrase troubled youth in the local news coverage.

About Michelle, not Grant.

Everyone felt bad for Grant: how sad, how tragic, how selfish that this girl—practically a stranger, some sophomore with a suicidal itch—would do something like this, forcing a bright young man like him to have to live with accidentally killing someone for the rest of his bright, promising life.

You,” Mom says, standing in the middle of the aisle, her mouth gasping for air like they’re in a Greek tragedy.

Grant Shepard stands still, as if he exists just to be gasped at by grieving mothers and gawked at by middle-aged Chinese aunties and uncles.

Excerpt from How to End a Love Story, Copyright © 2024 by Yulin Kuang. All rights reserved.

How to End a Love Story will be available in bookstores across Canada and online on April 9, 2024

Enter for your chance to win a copy of
How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang

Enter for your chance to win a copy of How to End a Love Story by Yulin Kuang