Title: It Ends With Us
Author: Colleen Hoover
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: New Adult
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.
I don’t think I have ever sat on the edge of my seat so much through a novel.
When most people think of a Colleen Hoover novel, this is likely the first one to cross their minds. It has been popular since its 2016 release, and continues to receive acclaim. Most recently, this book has blown up on TikTok after promotion by various influencers, resulting in booksellers placing it on display. For the most part, I find myself uninterested in overhyped novels; they tend to be overhyped to the point where the summary stops interesting me. But, after reading Colleen Hoover’s Ugly Love, I knew that this would be an exception.
Before I discuss the characters and storyline, I do want to make note of the deep subjects in this novel. Colleen Hoover commonly integrates themes of rape, sexual assault, suicide, etc. into her novels, which can be difficult for many individuals. Please be wary of this prior to reading the novel (or even my review) as this novel travels pretty deep into these themes.
Now, where do I even start with this novel? If I didn’t have other priorities, I could’ve easily sat down for a few hour and binge-read this entire novel. But, you know, life’s got other plans for me sometimes. Colleen Hoover developed a beautiful storyline for this novel with a very unique writing style (which I will get to later). But most importantly, you can feel how important this novel is to Hoover herself. Many of the topics discussed in this novel were issues that unfortunately occurred in Hoover’s personal life. Having this experience first hand assisted in Hoover’s emotional expressions throughout the novel. She knew how to incorporate the right amount of sadness and fear, while also including several lighter notes to keep the novel going forward. That’s truly the key topic of the book: to move forward. To get past everything that has already happened and to keep moving forward. One step at a time.
One of the things that Hoover is an expert on is an eye-catching opening chapter. Ugly Love started with Tate meeting a drunk Miles in front of her brother’s doorway, whereas IEWU starts with Lily and Ryle meeting on an apartment rooftop. Hoover writes first encounters in the most twisted manner, but leaves us wanting to know what will happen with the characters. Sometimes things work, but other times they don’t. You just have to keep reading to find out. (No wonder Hoover’s novels are so addicting haha!)
** WARNING: Some spoilers ahead (Sorry! Can’t help myself) **
As mentioned above, we had two main characters in this novel: Lily Bloom, an aspiring florist and Ryle Kincaid, a neurosurgical resident. From their first meeting, there was something electric about their connection. You knew that they would meet again, but the real question became WHEN? Then we got to meet Allysa, who probably wins the award of “best character in the novel.” With such a down to earth and bubbly attitude, she held this book together everytime it felt as if everything was falling apart. Allysa’s connection to Ryle brought Lily and Ryle from their first encounter to their second, third, fourth, and so on. During the first half of this novel, all felt fine in the development of their relationship. Then shit hit the fan.
One of the most important characters in this novel is Atlas, who we originally meet in Lily’s letters to Ellen. Yes, Ellen DeGeneres. This small touch drastically changed this novel and helped explain so much of Lily’s past experiences with assault and her relationship with Atlas. I knew that we would eventually meet present-day Atlas, but I was nonetheless shocked when he appeared in the novel. Successful, that’s what he was. Not the homeless boy we initially read about in the letters to Ellen. Once Atlas returned and Ryle began to behave violently towards Lily, this novel completely changed to a darker tone. One where I feared every chapter-ending Colleen Hoover wrote.
For so long during this novel, I held on to Ryle and Lily’s relationship. I loved it so much in the beginning and was hopeful that they could somehow find a resolution to their problems. But then there was always Atlas. The first true love, and the designated “good guy.” Colleen Hoover truly did put Lily in a difficult situation, and I was not expecting the ending whatsoever. During the little bit of time before Lily gave birth, I really had hope that something would work out between Ryle and Lily, but Lily’s decision to divorce threw my emotions over the edge. I couldn’t figure out if I was happy or angry at Hoover for this ending, but her explanation makes so much sense. How could someone continue to be in a violent relationship with a baby involved? As the neural circuit’s form in a baby’s brain, they are vulnerable to every image they see, every sound they hear, and every person they form a connection with. The ending was definitely tough, but it was necessary.
And I am not at all disappointed in Lily’s decision to start afresh with Atlas. Their history was healthy, and it was evident that the two characters continued to have feelings for one another. When all went wrong during Lily’s childhood, she had Atlas to hold onto. And just as it had started, it will end with the two of them.