I have never read anything by Colleen Hoover. I know. You should be shocked. I had actually never even heard of her until I started poking around the bookstagram community… and I don’t know how I managed it. When I asked where a good place to start was, I was told It Ends With Us. I’ve been clearly taking a lot of recommendations lately, but I’m not disappointed. And although I seem to be giving out five-star reviews like they’re going out of style, I truly think this one deserves it. I’ve never read anything like it, and I couldn’t put it down. Hoover is a great storyteller.
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.
It’s really hard to talk about this book without including some important plot points that I didn’t see coming, so proceed at your own risk. I will give you a spoiler-free review in this paragraph though: You should read this book. It’s a beautiful story that tackles some pretty hard-to-talk-about topics in a way that makes it digestible for everyone. If you are at all interested in relationships between people (in a romantic, familial or just general way), you will get something out of this, I promise.
Now, to tackle a spoiler-ish review, this was my first novel by Colleen Hoover, and I now understand what all the fuss was about. If her novels are anything like this one, count me in! After reading the Afterword, I understand how it happened, but Hoover managed to tackle the subject of abusive relationships in a way that would make even the most judgemental person take a second thought about it. I always told myself that I don’t know how it would be possible for someone to stay in a physically abusive relationship and how you could love someone who hurts you—but now I get it. And I also understand how it’s a cycle and how difficult it is to break that cycle. It really proves that you never know what people are going through in their relationships from the outside.
The tough stuff aside, I love the characters in this story. Especially the relationship between Lily and Alyssa. It’s the kind of friendship that is complicated, but proves that ultimately you just need to be there for each other. I couldn’t put myself in Lily’s shoes, but it didn’t really matter here. She felt like a real, fleshed-out character that I believed. The way her a Ryle get together is sexy and exciting, and the progression is natural. You’re rooting for them…until you (kind of) aren’t. I wish we got to see a little more of Atlas in the present day, but I understand why we don’t and I’m not upset by it. It’s ultimately not really his story.
I’ve never read a story like this one, and I’m so glad someone was able to tell it. Having never been in the situation, I’m not sure it does it justice, but I’d venture a guess that it does.
“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.” —Colleen Hoover, It Ends With Us
Thank you to Annie Spratt on Unsplash for the featured photo of the wilted flowers.