Title: It Ends With Us (2016)
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: New Adult
Extent: 376 pages
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up — she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
I wasn’t really expecting to pick up any of Colleen Hoover’s works — I’ve been warned multiple times before that she writes stuff I usually wouldn’t like (insta-love, over-angst, etc.), so I steered clear and abided by people’s recommendation… until, well, It Ends With Us. I read a couple of positive reviews, saw that it’s different to her usual stuff, and decided to take a dip. The result? Well… this is an interesting one. This review might contain spoilers, so tread with caution. 🙂
It Ends With Us introduces to us Lily, a twenty-something with big dreams who lives in Brooklyn. On the night of her father’s funeral, she meets Ryle, a tall, dark and handsome neurosurgeon who wants nothing to do with relationships but wants (of course) her. Time passes, they get together, and things take a bit of a dark turn as Lily discovers there’s more than meets the eye about the same time a man from her past, Atlas, resurfaces in her life.
This book deals with domestic abuse, and I think it does so in a very clever, very sympathetic, very real way. Lily is a multi-dimensional and complex character, and through her, Hoover explores this theme from a myriad of angles, attempting to answer difficult questions such as: Why might someone stay with an abusive partner? Can someone who hurt you also love you? What is the right thing to do?
“No one is exclusively bad, nor is anyone exclusively good. Some are just forced to work harder at suppressing the bad.”
There is a lot of angst, but this is a book (and a theme) that deserves a lot of angst. Abuse is such a tricky thing, and Lily is a great protagonist to navigate us through the issue — she has her own preconceptions of what it’s like, just like many of us might. Yet nothing is black or white here, no character inherently an evil person, and I really appreciate the stance that Hoover has taken with this story.
Unfortunately, there were some things that felt a bit flat for me. The writing, for one, was not bad: fast-paced enough that things keep going when they’re supposed to, but just wasn’t remarkable by itself. The characters other than Lily and Ryle, meanwhile, felt more driven by the story, than the other way around — they exist for this theme, but not so much outside of it.
“Maybe love isn’t something that comes full circle. It just ebbs and flows, in and out, just like the people in our lives. Just because we didn’t end up on the same wave, doesn’t mean we aren’t apart of the same ocean.”
I don’t think I’ll categorise It Ends With Us as a romance, because at the heart of it, it’s more about Lily-and-herself than Lily-and-her-men. The men play a huge part in her story, no doubt, but it’s her own growth, her own development, that takes centre stage in this book and makes the romantic relationships secondary.
I can’t say I’m a Hoover convert right now — gotta try out her other titles before I make a grand statement! — but I’m impressed by how delicately she explores the theme of domestic violence in It Ends With Us. Overall quite a powerful, emotional book, with lots of eye-opening and thought-provoking messages. 😊
REAL RATING: 3.5 stars.