Sometimes the people you love hurt you the most, and this novel showcases that perfectly- more perfectly than anyone who hasn’t experienced it will understand. This is an incredibly meaningful story of what it means to love an abuser- to love someone whose intentions are pure but whose actions hurt time and time again. In my opinion, abuse is a cycle that can be extremely hard to break. This concept is in the very title: It Ends With Us- The cycle ends with us. Beware of spoilers for this novel, if you haven’t read it I highly suggest you go read it for yourself.
It Ends With Us follows Lily Bloom through crucial parts of her life as she navigates how to end the cycle in her own past. You see, she grew up with an abusive father- and a silent mother who took the pain because she loved him and she claimed he loved her. Lily swore she would never fall into the same pattern of abuse. In her youth, she fell in love with Atlas, a boy who left his broken home, who Lily helped when he had no one else. Events separated them, and years later, Lily ends up with the passionate Ryle, working to achieve her dreams after the death of her abusive father.
The problem becomes that, as time goes on, Lily recognizes the patterns of abuse in Ryle- the jealousy, the blackout fits of anger, the begging apologies that came afterward. It starts simple, but horribly: “It was just a shove.” And then, later on, denial of even doing such a thing. As any abused person will know, it’s not hard to spot the signs of abuse and recognize them for what they are- but it’s terribly easy to justify them when you want to.
This book is a haunting tale of Lily’s power in breaking the cycle. When she becomes pregnant herself, she must make a terrible choice in leaving the person she’s truly in love with, because she knows that no amount of love justifies what is happening again, and again, and again.
Though it is written simply, in Ms. Hoover’s usual tone of writing, it is still a powerful message to weave into a story. I loved the personal details- Lily’s friendship with Ryle’s sister, her way of becoming Ryle’s girlfriend when he was not known for being capable of relationships, and most of all: I loved her journals. At first, I thought it was a bit cliche, but then I realized I’m the same way. Not obsessed with Ellen, but rather- I don’t like writing journals to myself. I would rather write out a journal entry to someone I love, like my girlfriend or my best friend, and I loved seeing this with Lily. She might not have had many friends, but she did have Ellen, and she used that as an outlet. It’s a very human thing- a very teenage girl thing- and I loved it. I felt like there was a clear “youngness” to these entries about the past, and I liked the variety of that.
Admittedly, my only other Colleen Hoover read has been Heart Bones, and if I had to make a complaint about her work, it would be that the two, though different, have very similar feelings to them. I would have liked to see a bit more difference. But, that said, I still am giving It Ends With Us a very high 5/5. Despite its simplicity, the subjects it tackles and the emotions it shows are very real and relatable, something that I love about Colleen Hoover’s writing. If you want a heartfelt romance read, this is a sure bet. Lily Bloom’s life is messy and emotional and real- the issues she deals with are ones anyone can understand.
Atlas never forgot his first love- and when he was ready, there she was again. He did not SAVE her from Ryle, Lily saved herself, and then she chose to move on with Atlas when the time was right. She did not shun Ryle, she did not hate the fact she was pregnant, and she did not run into Atlas’ open arms. The way she reacted to the situation was very human, and very well written, in my opinion. I can see why people love this book, and I have to admit that I do too. It’s the type of feel good rom-com with a touch of strife that I long to read, with the happy ending that everyone desires from a good book. I can’t wait to read more from this author, because her particular tone of writing is as comforting as slipping into a warm bath. You know what to expect from a Colleen Hoover book when you pick it up, and in the same moment, it surprises you still- and I love that.