Book review: It Ends with Us

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Image courtesy of Bill Green via Flickr

Colleen Hoover’s novel, It Ends with Us, introduces the reader to twenty-three-year-old business graduate Lily Bloom, who grew up in an abusive family and fell in love with a homeless boy when she was fifteen. But Lily has left that life behind and opened her own flower store in Boston.

In Boston, she meets Ryle Kincaid, a successful neurosurgeon. Sparks fly, but Ryle is against relationships and wants a one-night stand. Lily must also deal with the reappearance of Atlas, her first love. Lily relives her past with Atlas through a series of diary entries dedicated to Ellen DeGeneres.

This book had me hooked. Hoover’s beautiful writing draws you into the story so it feels as though you are the protagonist and are experiencing everything through Lily’s eyes. The conflict begins quickly as Lily meets Ryle a few pages into the first chapter. Lily is a high-functioning woman and the pacing of the novel matches her personality.

Lily is a charming protagonist: I fell in love with her when I read her first journal entry and I feel like I was right there with her during her high and low moments. She is a strong character who tries to do what she thinks is best, such as maintaining her relationship with the abusive Ryle. Lily’s excuses for his behaviour broke my heart but I couldn’t fault her even though I wanted to. The way Lily justifies the hurt that Ryle puts her through is something I can relate to as I have acted similarly.

At the beginning of the novel, I fell in love with Ryle just as Lily did. He is smart, handsome, ambitious, and a little arrogant, which I enjoyed. I liked his determination to be the best in his field. His willpower and drive made me want to start writing my long-overdue essay. Even when I read about him committing acts of domestic violence, there was still a part of me that liked him. I couldn’t believe it! That is a testament to Hoover’s writing ability, that she had me finding excuses like Lily.

Atlas, though. Oh, Atlas. If only I had someone like him in my life. Atlas is the new standard to which I will measure future book-boyfriends. Atlas’ story was heart-breaking to read, even as I looked forward to it because of his growing friendship with Lily. His love for Lily knows no bounds and there were times when I was blown away by his commitment.

I don’t want to reveal much more about these characters, or the plot itself: the less you know, the better the book is. I will comment though, that it’s easy to be judgmental. It’s easy to say, ‘I would never have done that’, or, ‘why didn’t she leave him?’ It Ends with Us reminds the reader that, sometimes, leaving a relationship is not easy, especially when there are children – and love – involved.

It Ends with Us spoke to me on a deeply personal level: there were moments when I found myself putting the book down just so I could take a breath. This book is a highly sensitive portrayal of different relationships, and I think anyone with a heartbeat should read it. Hoover shows how the one you love the most can end up hurting you the most, but that just because you love someone it doesn’t mean you should give them the power to damage you.

Although this book is a work of fiction, it is based on a true story. You might know someone who has experienced some form of domestic abuse. My mother is amongst these brave survivors, and I believe it is essential that the media gives domestic violence the exposure it deserves. I am thankful that authors like Hoover have taken a step to promote awareness, which is why I in turn am promoting her novel.