On Thursday, I got back from a lovely vacation on remote Ross Lake in the North Cascades—no phone, no cell service, no internet; my husband and I didn’t even bring our laptops. It was glorious.

I read and canoed and read and hiked and read and played games and read. With my kids I read Mr. Popper’s Penguins and James and the Giant Peach. On my own I read half a dozen books, most of which shall remain nameless because they were disappointing and I don’t want to offend the authors.

I’ll write more about my summer reading later, but for now let’s just get my biggest disappointment out of the way, the book I thought was going to be the literary equivalent of a chick flick but wasn’t—because the hero and heroine didn’t get together!!!

As a reader, I was angry. I read 350 pages, road this whole roller coaster of a novel, and they don’t get together? Are you kidding?

No, the author was not kidding. I read the ending twice just to make sure I’d understood (and then I wrote a much more satisfactory one, a practice I highly recommend when you love a book but hate its ending).

Still, I can’t say I’m sorry I read it, because as a writer, I learned a very important lesson: the whole book matters. I was totally engaged in this book, devoured every word, couldn’t put it down, laughed, cried—and then the last few pages ruined it all, casting their shadow backward over everything that came before.

As a writer, I learned that I can’t afford to lose my readers, not even on page 347 of 350 pages. Good to know.