I strongly recommend you to read the book before reading this review. There are no major spoilers, but I think the full impact of this story is received only if you enter it unaware of what to expect. However, if you do choose to read on, I’ve marked the spoilers out.
It Ends With Us is told in a very interesting style, alternating between past and present via medium of the main character, Lily’s diary. In her diary, she talks about a boy from her teen years and in present time, she talks about her boyfriend. I liked the writing style of the diary with each entry addressed to Ellen – it made it very unique. Lily’s voice as the narrator is very strong and likeable. It feels like a friend is narrating something out of her life, which makes it all the more heartbreaking to read what she went through.
[spoiler] Lily grew up in an abusive household, her father hit and mistreated her mother and so, she began to loathe him and wasn’t very sorry at his funeral. She tells all this to Ryle, her new boyfriend and we see him sympathise with her, and comfort her. Hoover set up the story in such a way that we readers fell in love with Ryle and so, his abusiveness came as a surprise. A terrible, terrible surprise. [/spoiler]
Now, the reason her past lover was mentioned wasn’t for naught, he forms a crucial part of the story and I love how Colleen managed to intertwine both stories into one. When we are first introduced to her past lover, Atlas, it doesn’t feel very significant but as her diary entries continue and we learn more about their back story, we realise what an impact they had on each other and it had everything to do with where they were at present. The story had such great flow to it, not too rushed, not too slow. We were given all the information we needed when we needed it so we always had both sides of the picture before making judgements about either character.
The side characters to the story were great – Lily’s mother, Ryle’s sister and her husband. As always, CoHo has managed to put in some great scenes of everyone interacting. I love Lily’s friendship with Ryle’s sister, in particular.
-avoid reading after this if you don’t want to be spoiled-
What made this book so interesting was that it’s told from the point of view of a girl who has grown up in an abusive environment, looks down on her mother for not having the courage to leave when she could but she still ends up in the same situation. That gave Lily more clarity on her mother’s thought process and helped her understand her mother more. This book shows how it’s not as black and white as just leaving your significant other because you love them so much, you want to look beyond their flaws. Colleen Hoover has written a very poignant author’s note at the end of the story about how she was inspired to write this story – her mother also was in an abusive situation but she, unlike Lily’s mother in this story, left before things became too drastic. A lot of the scenes in this book really moved me because of how well they were written and I understood everything that Lily was thinking.
Atlas’ story broke my heart. I was sobbing uncontrollably. I felt so angry at Lily’s father who just beat him up. He had a terrible life and I was so happy to see how far he had come. The story behind Bib’s was so unexpected. I love how though they’d been separated for so long, they both still had strong feelings about each other.
The story ends on a very bittersweet note as Lily decides to divorce him after her daughter is born. What felt sad about that scene was that Ryle understood everything Lily was saying and why she was saying them and he was truly sorry for everything he had done but I was so, so proud of Lily for finally leaving despite his apology.
All in all, this is a story that shook me up and made me cry a lot. This is definitely my favourite Colleen Hoover book and one of my best reads this year.