Review: “It Ends With Us” is heart-wrenching in the best way possible

Hoover’s novel gained popularity through BookTok, introducing a conversation about relationship abuse for young adults.

by Valeria Pereira Quintero | 4/7/22 2:00am

by Lila Hovey / The Dartmouth Staff

I felt nervous buying BookTok’s most popular book, “It Ends With Us,” by Colleen Hoover. I worried that how I felt about  this book would sway my future judgments on other books I find through TikTok. I was even more nervous writing a review for it, as, for me, “It Ends With Us” raised the bar for not only all other new adult fiction books, but fiction books across the board. I now understand why there is a cult following for this book and the characters in it. 

The slow-burn story follows Lily Bloom, a 23-year-old college graduate, who is in the midst of starting a new, simple life in Boston when she meets neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid. After a few unconventional encounters, they eventually fall in love. Bloom’s relationship with Kincaid gets complicated, however, when Bloom runs into her first love, Atlas Corrigan, with whom she had lost contact with years before. I found the storyline slow-paced when describing the previous relationship between Bloom and Corrigan, solely because I was hyper-focused on the present relationship between Bloom and Kincaid. 

Hoover makes her readers fall deeply in love with each of her book’s characters. The reader feels the pain of the protagonist when her boyfriend manipulates her love and uses it deceitfully. Hoover is known for using big plot twists in her books and manages to keep the readers hooked the entire time. I knew nothing about the book going in and could have never predicted what the final few pages would hold. I originally thought “It Ends With Us” was a romance novel and was simply waiting for the romance to occur until I realized that the narrative was so much more than a simple boy-meets-girl story. “It Ends With Us” is a heartbreaking tale about domestic abuse and violence with a heartbreakingly necessary ending. 

In interviews and the author’s note to the book, Hoover explained that many events in the book were inspired by real happenings of her and her mother’s life. She wanted to show how morally gray domestic abuse can seem when true, romantic love is at stake. I believe that Hoover wrote this book specifically to insert this perspective into the new adult genre. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in Georgia, 38.6% of women first experience intimate partner violence between the ages of 18 and 24. As a woman in this age group, and whose friends exclusively consist of others in this same age group, I feel it is almost necessary for me to recommend this book to others.

As a note of caution, I would recommend looking up the trigger warnings for this book before buying it, as there was one moment in the book where I questioned whether I would have to put it down. However, even with the sensitive subject matter, Hoover wrote heartbreaking scenes with such ease that the story flowed well enough that I didn’t feel the need to take a break. Oftentimes, with books that have a lot of emotional turmoil, I need excessive details to fully understand every crevice in the mind of the protagonist.  Hoover, however, was able to build up my love — and my deep trust — for the characters throughout the book and alongside the protagonist without extreme specifics. The book had high highs and low lows, so I’m grateful that Hoover never went too in-depth when talking about these harsh topics. My heart was torn in the most beautiful way — a way in which I could handle.

While I do not believe “It Ends With Us” to be a romance story, it is a love story. It’s a love story about choosing oneself over someone they love deeply; it’s about choosing to end a cycle of violence that hurts more people than it helps. This book taught me how women in situations of domestic violence may feel torn between someone they took a vow for and their own personal well-being and safety. Domestic violence is more nuanced and complicated than people talk about. I hate to say that, while reading this book, I fell in love with the abuser the same way Bloom did. I made excuses for him and always thought to myself, “just give him one more chance.” 

In an Instagram interaction with Hoover, I attempted to get more information on the upcoming sequel, “It Starts With Us” which is slated to be released in October 2022. I asked Hoover to not “be mean to [Corrigan] in the new book.” She replied, “neverrer.” The typo and extra letters in her response led to some speculation from fans about the new book. I’m guessing that “It Starts With Us” will follow the aftermath of domestic violence and rebuilding the relationship between the three main characters.

After finishing the book, I set it down with the need to run to Bema and scream. The ending is beautiful and necessary — I could not recommend this book more.

Rating: ★★★★★

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