A review by Nalini Haynes
Milo has been branded a loser by just about everyone he knows. He’s from a small country town (more of a small rurally-located city because it has a bookshop). After high school, nearly everyone he went to school with left, except him. Even his girlfriend moved to Canberra, three hours drive away, to go to university. But Milo is stuck working in his parents’ bookstore and fending off suggestions for his future while daydreaming about destinations in the travel store window.
Layla comes from the same small town but she moved away several years ago after her mother died. In fact, that’s an understatement: in the middle of the night, her father woke her up and dragged her out of the house without giving her time to pack or say goodbye. Now she’s returned. She can’t go to uni because her schooling was too disrupted, she fell behind then dropped out while her father dragged her around the countryside. She fell in with a druggie who decided to sell to support himself; he’s a real charmer. Not.
Milo and Layla used to be best friends. Now they’re not quite strangers when their lives intersect once more.
Remind Me How This Ends is a genre-bending book that almost pretends to be a romance but it’s more of a coming-of-age story that leaves the reader imagining the future for our not-so-heroic heroes.
Milo’s parental conflict, sibling rivalry and perennial millennial search for exactly the right fit are identifiable and frustrating, especially for me as a not-millennial whose pragmatic view is ‘do something now and find your dream while paying the bills’. However, hordes of millennials will cry ‘This is me! This!’ and wave the book at their parentals.
Layla’s search for connection after a traumatic past coupled with her grief embed this novel in my soul. While not a heavy read, Remind Me How This Ends requires tissues in between the laughter while Layla finds her way.
The conclusion is simultaneously satisfying, not satisfying and so open-ended that you can imagine your own future. I knew what I didn’t want: I didn’t want a cliché romantic ending that left me with itchy feet. I didn’t want a cliché that robbed Layla of her potential or wrapped her grief in a superficial teen romantic bandage that would later go septic. When I reached the end, I thought ‘This is the only ending that would have been satisfying’ and yet it’s more of a beginning, which is what life should be at 18. It’s all about the journey, which is what it should be.
Remind Me How This Ends is a bit Goodwood by Holly Throsby, a bit Yellow by Megan Jacobson and it feels like it could be a Fiona Wood or Shivaun Plozza story if they wrote characters just a little older. Highly recommended for readers from high school upwards.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
ISBN 10: 146075168X
Format: paperback, 352 pages