I enjoy reading every single day, and I especially love novels that make you think and pause as if you were the main character yourself.
How I Came Across This Book
While on a reading binge consisting of run-of-the-mill romance books with overused tropes and predictable endings that would never happen in real life, I came across something different. For months, I have been seeing this novel at the top of my reading recommendations on Amazon and at the top of the Amazon reading charts. Not being one to succumb to peer pressure, or in this case digital pressure, I decided to read the summary of the book and to read the reviews. Some people loved the book, and some hated its view on domestic abuse and finding a solution to the problem. Wanting to develop an opinion for myself, I bought and downloaded Colleen Hoover’s, “It Ends With Us”.
Opening at the Close
The story begins at the end, starting with the funeral of her abusive father. Lily is encouraged to deliver a eulogy and to state five good things about her father, including nothing. She says nothing after premising her speech, only remembering how horrible her father was to her mother. She later meets Ryle Kincaid, a neurosurgeon, and they talk about his job and her aspirations of opening a flower shop. They make a connection that is only severed a moment later when he gets called in. She continues with her life and starts to read her childhood journals, chronicling her years of witnessing her mother’s abuse and finding refuge in Atlas, a homeless boy she grew to love in Maine. She addresses all of her journals to Ellen DeGeneres, using her show as an escape, and details caring for and losing Atlas when he moves to Boston. He promises to come back for her and never does, leaving her with a broken heart and no closure.
The Beginning of the Abuse
While preparing to open her flower shop, Lily meets Ryle’s sister and sees him again, rekindling their previously interrupted connection. They try to move forward again, but he falls asleep before they get very far, causing the connection to be stilled yet again. After a year of back and forth, they decide to get together and to try things out. Things start out normal with him using a bit of force here and there to move her where he wants her until things escalate. Ryle burns his hand trying to remove a pan from the oven and Lily, a bit drunk, starts to laugh as she stares at the mess around her. She goes from laughing to shocked silence as she finds herself suddenly pushed onto the floor and into broken glass. He claims that he was upset about her laughing at his hand, his livelihood as a surgeon, and got angry. He apologizes and she forgives him, justifying his actions like her mother used to.
The Second Incident
Things are okay until she meets with Atlas, who now owns his own restaurant, and he sees her injury. He tells her to leave before things get worse. She claims it was an accident and stays in denial, causing him to leave her with his number just in case she ever needs to call. Ryle finds them together and assumes the worst about her, She ends up marrying Ryle and he eventually finds the number and assumes the worst, walking out on Lily after breaking her phone. She runs to follow him and he pushes her down the stairs to their apartment, claiming that she fell when she comes to. He justifies this abuse by bringing up the accidental shooting of his brother when he was six, claiming that he blacks out and forgets himself when he’s angry. She takes him back and things are fine until he goes through her personal items.
Lily's Last Straw
In this pivotal moment, Ryle finds Lily's old journals detailing her relationship with Atlas and discovers that they still have an emotional connection after reading an article about Atlas. Ryle forcibly bites into Lily’s neck tattoo, an homage to teenaged Atlas, and attempts to take advantage of her, in order to make her forget about Atlas. This situation reminds her of her parents, and she tries to stop him only to be headbutted until she's barely conscious. She calls Atlas when she wakes up, and he helps her escape, standing by her side once she learns she is pregnant. She waits until Ryle leaves for England for his residency and moves back into her place, letting go of her connection to Atlas. Lily comes clean to Ryle’s sister, Allysa, and she encourages her to stay strong and to never take him back. As Lily grows bigger, Ryle comes back to find out she’s pregnant. He wants them to get back together, but she decides not to make a decision until the baby gets there. They work together to build the nursery and spend time together whenever he isn’t at work. They grow closer but at a distance until Lily asks for a divorce right after the birth of their daughter.
It Ends With Us
Instead of continuing the negative cycle of abuse that runs in her family, affecting both her and her mother, she decides to end it. She asks Ryle what he would do if their daughter was being abused, and he breaks down, knowing that he has to let Lily go. She doesn't want her daughter growing up used to the idea of abuse and accepting it in her own life. She decides right then that there will be no more abuse in her life or her daughter’s from then on. Months later, Lily and Ryle get into a routine of sharing custody of their daughter and she later meets Atlas, ready to start over again with the man who held her head above water in the past.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
While this novel is a bit shocking to the psyche of those who don’t often delve into the minds of the abused, it was a great read. Oftentimes, we tend to overlook the abuser and put all of the blame on the victim, claiming that they are weak for accepting the abuse and for going back time and time again. However, it is easy to judge when you are not the one being abused and experiencing your best and worst moments at the hands of the same individual. No matter the situation, abuse is abuse and the abuser should be the one to shoulder the judgment instead of the victim. I recommend this book for anyone who wants a different perspective on domestic violence so that they can understand just how quickly things can escalate and why some people stay with their abusers.
It Ends With Us By: Colleen Hoover
© 2022 Sa'Mya Clark