Oh boy. I FINALLY READ IT. One of the most popular books this year (at least if you’re on booktok and bookstagram like me). It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. And what a book it was. I am flabbergasted. What a book. I already said that. I have no words (just kidding, of course I have words. This is a blog after all, In fact, I have A LOT of thoughts).
This was my first Colleen Hoover book, and I know that she’s kind of a controversial author. Like, people seem to either really love her or really hate her. Some even call her books problematic for romanticizing toxic relationships. But I also know that this is one of her most popular books. It has a whopping 4,43 aggregate on Goodreads with over half a million total ratings. That is a feat, y’all.
This review contains spoilers! I gotta go into detail, sorry
I really wanted to write a spoiler free review for this book, I just don’t think it’s possible. I need to talk about it in detail, okay. So, this is a heavy book. If I had to name one thing that this book is really about, it’s the cycle of abuse. We follow our main character Lily Bloom (horrendous name, I know), a 23 year old girl who has just lost her father, who she had a.. complicated relationship with. Her father was abusive towards her and her mother, and Lily holds a lot of resentment towards him because of that. Then she meets Ryle, and they fall in love.
At the same time, Lily is slowly going through some of her old stuff, including old journals. We revisit these journals with her and learn that when she was fifteen, she fell in love with a boy named Atlas, who was a senior at her school. He ended up homeless after being kicked out by his mom and Lily secretly helped him in the months before he went to join the marine. In the first half of the book, Lily’s diary entries recount how they bonded over their abusive households and eventually started having feelings for each other. But after Lily’s father finds Atlas secretly sleeping in her bed, things end badly.
In present day Lily’s relationship with Ryle becomes more toxic, in fact, he starts to physically abuse her. This is where this book is very different from other books: while it shows Ryle being an abuser, it also shows the nuance of abuse. Ryle couldn’t handle that Lily had a life before him and he did not know how to deal with those feelings: he showed them through aggression and his horrendous actions. But he was also genuinely remorseful and seemed to wish it didn’t happen afterwards. That doesn’t mean his actions were justified or that he’s now a good person, more that Lily saw him as a beautiful but flawed individual. It shows why people might stay in relationships even if they’re abused. So often it isn’t as black and white as it seems. Abusers are often very charming and likable, instead of the Disney villains we like to portray.
”Every incident chips away at your limit. Every time you choose to stay, it becomes that much harder to leave.”
A lot happens in the plot of this book, more than I care to recount here, but Lily does get her ‘happy for now’ ending with Atlas. Something that I found very interesting about this book is that a lot of people say they LOVED Rye up until the point he started to become abusive–but I personally saw the red flags coming from miles away. He begged Lily to have sex with him on multiple occasions and showed up on her doorstep unannounced (maybe it’s the introvert side of me, but hello boundaries?) Not to mention that he shows his angry side in the very first scene of the book, when Lily and Rye first meet. I could go on about it, but I disagree that his character was written to be perfect from the beginning. These red flags seem to be peppered in on purpose.
I ended up giving the book five stars because I connected with it so much, but that doesn’t mean I thought the book was ‘technically perfect’. In the end, Lily and Rye become parents of a little girl, and Rye is still in the kid’s life as her dad. I understand this choice on the author’s part because this is so often the reality in real relationships, even if they know violence. However, I would have liked to see Rye get therapy or AT LEAST do an anger management course to become a better person and a better father. However it does make a lot of sense that Lily allowed him to see his daughter, because even though she is stern in her decision to end her marriage, she still has love for him. Again, this is why abusive relationships are so complicated and not at all black and white.
‘‘I am in love with a man who physically hurts me. Of all people, I have no idea how I let myself get to this point.”
Another thing that made me.. frown a little were Lily’s finances. A HUGE thing that domestic abuse victims often struggle with (and one of the reasons they often won’t leave their abuser) is finances. However in this book this was completely glossed over. Rye’s sister is a friend of Lily and she just happens to be extremely rich. Lily opens her own flower shop at the beginning of the book, but the shop just ends up doing well without many challenges. I wish the author had explored the financial side a little more. What if her flower shop ended up not getting a lot of customers at first and she partly relies on Rye to keep it open? That would have complicated her decision even more and I would have loved to see that.
Atlas and Lily don’t meet each other again until the epilogue of the book. Which is WAY too late for me. I always say that I need to see domesticity from my couples: I want them to live together and be cute and do regular things. We don’t get that with Lily and Atlas in this book, the end is a little vague in that regard. I wish we could have gotten one more chapter.
I know I just mentioned a bunch of things in the book that I would have liked to see different, but I still really loved the book. I think that’s the case because the subject matter is just really dear to my heart. I personally come from an abusive household and the way abuse is portrayed in this book is so incredibly realistic and nuanced, that I just had to give it five stars. It is a harrowing read, and I feel like my thoughts might be a little jumbled, but the bottom line is: I recommend this book to everyone. It will help you understand abuse and recognize it earlier in your own relationships.
”We break the pattern before the pattern breaks us. [..] It stops here. With me and you. It ends with us.”
Name: It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publication date: August 2016
Length: 368 pages (paperback)
Tropes: Second chance romance,
POV: Single POV, first person, past tense
Trigger warnings: sexual abuse, domestic abuse, gaslighting
Final rating: ★★★★★
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