While growing up in a small town of Maine, Lily didn’t have it easy. Witnessing her father’s abusive behaviour towards his wife, Lily’s only escape is Atlas – a homeless boy staying just across the road and her first love. Trying to create a good life for herself regardless of her background, Lily embarks on a journey of opening up her own business in the city of Boston. It is there that she comes across Ryle – an arrogant yet brilliant neurosurgeon, staving off relationships. He makes an exception for Lily though and as the two begin working on their relationship, will it be threatened by Atlas’s sudden reappearance?
‘It Ends with Us’ is a heavy and difficult read, in multiple sense of the words and I don’t think it would be fair to judge it in its entirety so I’m going to split it into two. As I want to dive into specific details, from here on out, the review will contain minor plot spoilers.
Domestic abuse is a predominant theme of this novel and it is a delicate subject to deal with. It also includes rape and toxic relations. I’m not going to pretend I understand what the victims are going through or how hard it must be to decide to leave.
However, Ryle is manipulating Lily’s emotions right from the start, before any of that takes place. Knocking down on every door in her apartment building in order to find her and beg her to sleep with him. Him putting up a picture of her on the canvas shortly after they met. In the meantime, he is presented as an absolute perfection of a human being – rich, well educated, hot and a perfect husband material despite all the red flags and his inability or unwillingness to commit.
These situations are never just black and white, life isn’t that way in general, but while I understand the topic that the book wanted to tackle, I disagree with how it was handled. This is a book read by many, some of the readers might be currently experiencing, or might have previously experienced, similar situations and I feel there is nothing of value in it for anyone.
Heavy spoiler ahead: It is never talked about how Ryle should have sought professional help and neither Lily nor his family have arranged for it. There is also no mention over any supervision of Ryle’s time with Dory. I don’t understand how Lily, knowing what he’s done, left him for her own good, but does not worry about leaving their daughter alone with him. This doesn’t sit right with me.
I empathise with what Lily went through but I do not think that the book captured the topic in the best way possible and might have even downgraded it instead.
I have a big issue with the writing style of this book and some of the choices author made, unrelated to its theme as such.
Majority of the plot was too far fetched – Ryle’s sister being all to happy to work for Lily for free out of pure boredom, weird obsession with Ellen DeGeneres.
It also felt like the author wanted to present Atlas as a genuine, innocent, perfect love interest in Lily’s earlier life but it missed the mark completely. An adult at 18 years of age waiting for a 15 year old girl to turn of legal age to sleep with her is dodgy and not supportive of genuine feelings.
While I do believe ‘It Ends with Us’ brings up important topics to light, topics we should not close off on and which should be discussed, it does not do it justice.
I appreciate the fact that this novel is based on the author’s personal experience, but it does not mean it was a good book. Since reading it, I have also learned about the news regarding Colleen Hoover and her son, the colouring book, and while I won’t go into details here, I think it’s safe to say, I will not be picking up her novels anytime soon, if at all.