This is a tough one and I must preface it with the fact that it is splashed all over Facebook. I mean that literally; everywhere I go I run into IEWU hype. That said, I approached it with a good deal of enthusiasm. Colleen Hoover is a phenomenal author and I respect her greatly. Now, for the review.
It Ends With Us is the story of Lily, the daughter of a severely battered wife, Ryle, a gorgeous neurosurgeon who doesn’t believe in relationships, and Atlas, the homeless boy who captured Lily’s heart at the tender age of fifteen. The book goes back and forth between the present and the past, as written in her journals. The entries in her journal were very personal and I was able to put myself in her shoes. They were powerful, but a good deal of that was lost, due to the fact that they were sprinkled throughout the book. I would have been able to fully appreciate those vital moments if they had been written as one piece in the beginning. As it was, the flip-flop left me a little disconnected, although I did look forward to them. In other words, I much prefer teen Lily to adult Lily. That is due, in part, to the fact that she is unrealistically mature for her age, so I enjoyed her naivety mixed with her unfounded depth. She was raised around a father who repeatedly beat the stuffing out of her mother, but that doesn’t lead a fifteen year old to be deeply introspective. Regardless, I liked her.
At the beginning, adult Lily lacks understanding and patience for her mother, who stayed with her husband. Unable to relate, she creates a distance between them that was sometimes hard to read. I get where she was coming from, but at the same time I disliked Lily for being so hard on her mother. Since she herself was not abused as her mother was, I felt like she had no right to judge her mother so harshly. Of course, through the course of the book that is resolved, but it is hardly touched upon. I wish it had received more attention. After all, it’s her mother.
The start of her relationship with Ryle felt a bit rushed. Normally when I read I feel a strong emotion towards the love interest, whether it be good or bad. I didn’t feel much for Ryle until he threw a temper tantrum. It was fairly early in the book, so my spidey senses told me where it was going. I hadn’t felt much for him before that and after it was nothing but dislike.
Now, cut to Atlas, the homeless boy from the journals. He was loveable and needed her. He provided her the opportunity to find her inner strength, and to a degree she did. She had a traumatic experience at sixteen that made her hatred of her father more valid, which I’m guessing is part of why she holds a grudge against her mother, but it made her grow up a bit. The entries about her worry for Atlas and then when she brought him into her life and heart were wonderful. Teen Atlas was addictive.
Adult Atlas is more of a side note to her present day life. He is still a stronger character, but he didn’t get much attention, especially considering Ryle had the spotlight. The story is trying to address a very sensitive topic that millions of women around the world deal with everyday. I respect Colleen so much for doing that. Thousands of women are connecting to this book and crying torrents of tears, but my eyes remained completely dry.
Let me tell you why. The way it was written into the book did not highlight the true horror of abuse. There were only a few times when it occurred and they were very brief. I didn’t really feel it. It felt dry and more like reading a police report. There just wasn’t enough attention paid to her feelings and inner dialogue. Immediately, he was very apologetic, as a lot of men are, but even that felt weak because it was skimmed over and she was back in his arms, hoping for the best. I cannot pretend to know what it is like to be physically abused, but I have known women who were and this is how these relationships often start out, before they get worse. I wish I had felt more sympathy towards Lily, but the writing felt superficial and it seemed like more attention was given to the running of her flower shop and her relationship with her best friend, Ryle’s sister Allysa. More than half of the book is dedicated to the journals and her budding relationship with Ryle, which means not as much time was given to their marriage and what it entailed.
I loved Atlas, but his character began as someone most women love: a broken boy. Without him, the book would not have had a male character to hang my hope on, but my thoughts are that the book would have been stronger without him. He was a distraction from the message of the story. If the focus had been more on Ryle’s and Lily’s relationship, more attention would have been on how he treated her. As it was, it felt flat.
The ending was not powerful, as I’d hoped, but I was fairly content with the resolution. It could have gone another way, one of redemption, but that is another tricky topic and this one resounded with me, because of how I felt about Ryle and Atlas. Without the author’s note at the end I would have been far less impressed. It was the personal note that really touched me. I wish I had enjoyed the book more and been able to connect with the characters. Am I glad I read it? Sure. Did it open my eyes? Not really, but like I said, I’ve known people.
Now for the rating
- Genre and audience – possibly romance, but that wasn’t the goal of the book. The audience is definitely mature, but I could see older teens reading it. It could be a good way to introduce girls who are about to jump into mature relationships to the possible danger of abusive partners.
- Sex – there were only a few scenes and they were artfully done. They were not graphic and were more about the love. There was one possible rape, but that is never confirmed. Even Lily didn’t know for sure, seeing as she was unconscious.
- Number of tears shed – zero.
- This is not part of a series, complete stand-alone.
- Was there character development? – I could see it, but I couldn’t feel it. He’s sorry and wants to be a better person. She takes a stand. The other guy finally finds self worth.
- Number of laughs – two or three. They were a nice touch, but I never bust a gut or guffawed. The book was serious as intended.
Finally, to borrow a phrase from the book, “the naked truth” is that It Ends With Us was a solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️. Good book.