It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Published by: Atria Books on August 2nd, 2016
There is so much that I want to say about It Ends With Us, but it’s just so difficult to put it into words. It’s not often that I come across books as powerful as this, books that are so moving they lead you to look at real life issues through a completely different lens. I have to say that It Ends With Us, along with The Hate U Give, are the most important books I have read this year so far. While THUG dealt with police brutality, It Ends With Us focuses on another alarming issue: domestic violence.
Lily is a 23-year-old college graduate who has just started her own flower shop. A couple of months beforehand, she meets Ryle, a 30-ish neurosurgeon. Ryle and Lily’s relationship certainly started off strong, with him literally telling her he wanted to sleep with her within minutes of meeting her. He didn’t sound very endearing to me, but Ryle quickly grew on me. He was sweet, smart, and successful. He was your typical commitment phobe who suddenly changes his ways for our main character, but then we learned that there was something not so typical about him: Ryle abuses Lily.
“There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.”
Through a series of letters she used to write to her idol, Ellen DeGeneres, as a teenager, we learn that Lily grew up in a violent household, where her father would constantly beat her mother up. She always wondered why her mother wouldn’t just leave her father, and convinced herself, the same way we all do, that if it were her, she would have been long gone. And that’s the thing about domestic violence. It’s always so easy to dismiss and say “just leave” until you actually experience it.
Ryle isn’t your “typical” abusive partner. He’s not an alcoholic, he never showed violent qualities before, and he has a good job. He’s the kind of man your mother loves, and Lily’s mother definitely did. It was so refreshing to see Colleen Hoover portray him this way and then expose him for who he truly was, because people like Ryle are actually a lot more common than we might think.
The first time Ryle hits Lily, it’s when he accidentally burns his hand on a pot holder a few days before an important surgery. She laughs, and he leans forward and pushes her, causing her to bang her head against the table. Lily is alarmed, her mind automatically traveling to her father, but she soon forgives him. The next time, he pushes her down the stairs. And the final time, in a fit of extreme jealousy, he head butts her so hard she has to get stitches, and attempts to rape her. It’s extremely horrifying, but what’s even worse is how realistic the situation is. It’s so horrible to think that so many men and women experience this on a daily basis, and it makes me scared for the future, when I end up finding my own husband. Lily thought Ryle was her soulmate. But your soulmate should never lay hands on you at all.
Before reading this book, I have to admit that domestic abuse victims sometimes confused me a little bit. I knew that circumstances were often dire, but I figured that if someone hurts you, the obvious response is to leave them. But as we traveled through Lily’s POV, we learned that it’s never that easy. Lily loved Ryle, but sometimes love just isn’t enough. Not when the person who is supposed to love and protect you hurts.
“Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”
The main reason why Ryle started to become so abusive towards Lily was all because of Atlas, her first love that soon reappears in her life. When Lily and Atlas first met in high school, he was homeless and she helped him out by giving him clean clothes, food, showers, and a place to sleep. They quickly fell in love, but it had to end when he left for Boston to live with his uncle. Nine years later, Lily goes out for dinner with Ryle and her mother and she finds out that Atlas is the owner of that very restaurant. Atlas was an amazing character. He was so kind and cared so much about Lily, and it was obvious that he would do anything for her.
“In the future, if by some miracle you ever find yourself in the position to fall in love again, fall in love with me.”
I also loved Alyssa, Lily’s best friend and her sister-in-law, as well as her husband, Marshall. But, not surprisingly, my favorite character by far was Lily. Lily quickly made it clear to herself that she was more than just a statistic; she was a survivor. She was so strong and such a great heroine. Most of all, she was realistic, and she really opened my eyes to the horrors of realizing that your greatest love is also your greatest fear.
All in all, It Ends With Us is an amazing read that calls upon important issues that need to be discussed more. Domestic violence is such a taboo topic, as well as the way we view the victims, and Lily really made a great point when she said the following:
“Shouldn’t there be more distaste in our mouths for the abusers than for those who continue to love the abusers?”
I hadn’t realized how much truth that statement holds until I saw it right there in front of me. This was my first Colleen Hoover book, and it definitely deserves all the hype it has gotten since it was published almost a year ago. Kudos to her for tackling a topic so eloquently and realistically. This is definitely a read that will stick with you, and I highly, highly recommend it.