By Colleen Hoover
My rating: 5 stars
Goodreads Rating: 4.44 Stars
Genre: Romance / Dark Fiction
Format Read: Libby EBook
Goodreads summary: Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.
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, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.
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.
Content warnings for It Ends with Us (highlight line below to read):
Domestic abuse in multiple relationships, drinking, attempted rape, homelessness
I don’t normally read romances because I think a book is too predictable when it’s just about the talking into honeymoon phase of the relationship. Everything is too smooth sailing, with only the predictably small bumps in the road. The reason I picked this up is because people told me Colleen Hoover writes more complexly than that, and damn were they right. This book is not a pure romance. This book is not lighthearted. If you’re looking to read a book where you can cheer wholeheartedly for the main couple, then this book is not for you.
Hoover stated in the author’s note at the end that she based this book on her parent’s relationship. I think that’s an incredibly raw and difficult thing to admit, and I applaud her for doing so. The emotion that she must have felt witnessing her parent’s marriage came through vividly in the book. I have never been in a situation of domestic violence, but I viscerally felt each and every emotion that the characters were feeling. It is one of those books where after reading it, you can relate more to real life people who have been in a similar situation. That was Hoover’s point of writing the book, and she executed incredibly.
“It Ends with Us” focuses on the life of Lilly Bloom, a young adult and aspiring florist who is all too aware of the irony of her name. Her father has just passed away, and she finds herself not really mourning the way she’s expected to. Her father physically abused her mother for the entire time that Lilly lived with them, and so she hates him. She doesn’t understand how her mother could have been so weak to stay with him, and she refuses to say a single nice thing about him at his funeral. It’s that very night when Lilly meets Ryle. Ryle is a super hot doctor who blows off steam by kicking chairs and shouting in anger. He and Lilly connect emotionally, and then part ways.
It isn’t until nearly a year later that they reconnect, and from there their romance starts to bloom (pun intended). The rest of the book flips back and forth between the present day relationship between Ryle and Lilly, and the high school relationship between Lilly and Atlas. Atlas was a homeless boy who was camping out in the house next to Lilly’s, and the two of them formed an incredible bond that Lilly still feels all these years later, despite never once seeing him in the years between.
It’s hard to share much more of what happens without spoiling any part of the book, and I think it is better if you don’t know what happens because it makes each moment feel more raw when you read it. I would recommend checking out the content warnings if you want to be more aware of what to expect, because there are some pretty difficult topics.
That being said, the book wasn’t all darkness, and that’s what Hoover did so well. There are cute and quirky characteristics about each of the characters that endears them to the reader. Lilly is obsessed with watching the Ellen Show. Ryle asks for “naked truths” when he wants Lilly to be brutally honest with him. Alyssa (who becomes one of Lilly’s best friends) is so rich she doesn’t need to work, but does it anyways for fun. All of these little details bring the characters alive.
In terms of pacing, this book moved. I never felt bored while reading it, and it jumps through time so quickly that you see years of a relationship captured in just a single book. I personally love things like this! It’s so much more real to see a relationship as it progresses over time.
Basically, I loved this book. Adored it. But you should go in knowing that it’s dark, because otherwise it won’t be what you’re looking for.