It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Published by: Atria Books on August 2nd, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Find It: Goodreads
Rating: 2.5 Stars
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.
With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.
I picked up It Ends With Us after a friend couldn’t say enough great things about it. I went in completely blind, and assumed I was getting myself into a typical contemporary romance. While I wasn’t wrong, per se, I was definitely missing the biggest part of the picture. The part that has me feeling torn, now that I’ve turned the final page.
Easily the part of It Ends With Us that held me captive were the two different love stories. Learning about Lily’s family history and her affair with Atlas through her teenage diary entries, was an interesting choice which I think panned out well. The way in which the entries were interspersed throughout the plot, with elements of the present being tied to the themes of her past, meant I couldn’t decide which storyline I wanted to progress further first. I fell for Atlas, as I was intended to, and my heart broke both for his situation and for the impact that had on his relationship with Lily.
As for the romance set in the present, I found myself completely caught up in the steaminess of it all. Ryle is confident to a point of arrogance. I loved seeing how Lily managed to shake some of that confidence, though she didn’t do anything remarkable to make that happen. I didn’t necessarily buy in to the love portion of their relationship, as it happened so quickly and so much of their time was spent getting to know each other in more physical ways, but I was too busy enjoying the ride to really let their lust-as-love bother me.
The Plot Twist
From here on out I have to get spoilery. So if you would like to remain blind as to the real direction It Ends With Us takes, then you’re going to want to stop reading here.
Ryle is abusive. Part of my problem with It Ends With Us is that Hoover didn’t allow Ryle to just be the type of person who was abusive. She had to provide a lacklustre explanation, something to do with a childhood trauma, to try and justify his behaviour. But what’s worse is feeling like this childhood trauma was introduced solely so that we wouldn’t feel like Ryle was a bad person. Solely, so that as readers, we wouldn’t immediately write him off. So that we might understand why Lily would feel conflicted about leaving him.
I understand that people in abusive relationships try to rationalize why they stay with their abuser. I understand that Hoover was trying to show that the abuser in a relationship isn’t always a terrible person. But making Ryle someone that might not have abused Lily had he not experienced that trauma felt disingenuous. It doesn’t matter why Ryle is the way he is. What matters is how Lily responds to the abuse.
Lily knows the warning signs; she grew up in an abusive household. She knows the kind of guilt that follows a violent outburst. And she knows how that guilt turns into more broken promises of “never again”. So why did she stay after the first incident? I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t feel the chemistry between Lily and Ryle; it was palpable. But is strong chemistry a good enough reason to put yourself at risk? Did I believe that her love for Ryle burns so true that she’s blind to his darker tendencies? No, and I don’t think I was supposed to. After the very first incident where Ryle’s temper resulted in physical harm, she doubted him. And she knew she was right to doubt him. So why didn’t she listen to herself?
By the last 100 pages or so, I was only reading It Ends With Us because I had gone too far not to finish it. Reintroducing someone from Lily’s past felt like an attempt to cause more tension or angst, but it wasn’t needed. Everything Lily was going through was enough on it’s own. Her inner turmoil, her guilt, and her conflicting emotions were enough on their own. I think if Hoover had focused on this one plot line, instead of trying to bring in several different angles, the message she was obviously trying to impart would have gone a lot further.