Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Audio Book Review: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Genre: Romance/Audio Book
Pub. Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Atria
Source: Library
Other Books By Author: All Your Perfects,
My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most. Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up — she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true. Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place. As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened."



Lily has grown up in an abusive household. Her father has abused her mother for years and this has impacted her tremendously. She has since moved on, graduated college, and started her own business. She'll never forget her childhood and even her first love, Atlas, who was a homeless boy in her neighborhood that she instantly connected with and helped. One night she meets Ryle Kincaid, a neurosurgeon, and they instantly connect with one another. He is smart, good looking, charming, full of himself, and he loves Lily. She can't quite believe it. As their relationship progresses, he starts showing another side of him though. To complicate matters further, Lily runs into Atlas at a restaurant in Boston and it stirs up old feelings. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover is a novel about trauma parading around as a romance novel.

Clearly, Lily is a wounded bird in It Ends with Us. She doesn't have a normal father figure to look up to and it shows. She finds herself as a teenager trying to help Atlas, a homeless boy (actually man-- don't get me started how this was actually statutory rape!!!) in her neighborhood and this desire to "fix" the men in her life will continue to adulthood. This is clearly a trauma response. Her mother allows herself to be abused by her husband and makes excuses for him. This generational trauma will continue and seep into Lily's DNA. I actually blame Lily's mother for not standing up for herself and showing her daughter what a good woman deserves. I understand that it's hard to get out of a codependent relationship, but people do it. This isn't like escaping out of Alcatraz. Also, with all that Lily saw as a child, why didn't she get therapy? She clearly needs it. Also, why didn't Ryle receive therapy after his childhood trauma?

And that's moves us to Ryle in It Ends with Us. She meets Ryle after her father's untimely death and obviously, she is in a weak state of mind. He preys on her and even shows us his tendency for violence by taking it out on a patio chair, but apparently Lily overlooks this blunder. He's everything she could want until he isn't. Slowly, his red flags go up and Lily, like her mother, makes excuses. He has childhood trauma. He is complicated. He is under pressure. But he is a surgeon! The extensive list of excuses was as long as my CVS receipt. I just can't.

Hoover doesn't really develop her characters. Who is Lily? She likes flowers. Good. What else? WE DON"T KNOW! She is mostly defined by a man - even her best friend is Ryle's sister. I mean can we say enmeshment trauma? 

Guys, It Ends with Us is a bestseller. I realize I am an outlier when it comes to this novel, and quite frankly, I have received a lot of hate for critiquing it, but I don't think it highlighted how hard it can be and complicated it could be to get out of an abusive relationship. What I mean is I don't think it was done in a safe way; it romanticized it and then didn't explain at the end of the novel resources women have. I would have appreciated this novel more if there was an epilogue that addressed how you SHOULD report an abusive dipstick. I wanted a paragraph at the end explaining that Lily is a broken person. She has trauma. She is codependent. She has trauma responses. Do not model yourself after her, young girls. Go over the steps you should take if you experience abuse. Get the cops involved! This guy shouldn't be a surgeon! He shouldn't be left in the room with women or children. He has rage strokes. He blacks out with rage. I wouldn't want him preforming surgery on me. I wanted to scream, "REPORT HIM, Lily." Make him pay for it in some way other than losing Lily, which I don't think he truly cared about her anyway. It Ends with Us wasn't empowering, even at the end.

Which leads me to Lily at the end of the novel. She wasn't the hero of her own story. I know people say she was at the end of the novel, but she wasn't. She needed Atlas to save her more than once and she jumps from one broken boy to another. I applaud her for ending the cycle of abuse, but is she really? She leaves her daughter with him. So, does it actually "end with us?" Nope, Lily. It doesn't. That man should have supervised visitation with a child. I wanted a final chapter where Lily to takes krav maga and kicks some ass, but instead she runs down the street looking for another man to solve her problems. So, needless to say, Colleen Hoover isn't for me. I don't get off on trauma, at least done like this. It's not cute. It's not entertaining. It's not how we help women become empowered. Lily needed a major dose of main character energy. Giving her some balls at the end of the story wasn't enough.

Have you read It Ends with Us? If you'd like to have a worthwhile discussion (and not bash me or claim that I misunderstood the novel), I'd love to hear your thoughts below.



  1. I've read a few of Colleen Hoover's novels and only really seem to enjoy the "non-traditional" ones (Layla, Verity). Her "romance" novels are so problematic for me, emotionally manipulative, and the characters make me roll my eyes so hard.

    1. I really loved Verity, so I was surprised by how much this one didn't work for me. I think you are right -- her more "different" romances may appeal to me more. Thanks for visiting, Angela!

  2. Actually, I just looked back at my own review from 2020 and I gave this book 4 stars, but the more I think about it, the less I like it, and if I read it today, I probably wouldn't give it such a high rating.

    1. Yeah, after I thought about it more and more, the novel didn't sit well with me. I also came across reviews where people were making excuses for Ryle. It just annoyed me! Thanks for dropping by, Angela!


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