By Colleen Hoover.

 

Sometimes the one who loves you is the one 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, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.
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.
With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.
This book contains graphic scenes and very sensitive subject matter.

 

I went into this book not really knowing what to expect. I wanted to read a contemporary romance and chose this book thinking it would be a light read and it was Not that. At all. It’s very hard to make me cry with romance, but by the end of this I had more than a few tears in my eyes. So let’s get into it.

This book is told from Lyla’s point of view, and it starts with a really great scene that I could picture in my mind as clearly as if I was watching a movie. It’s a fairly long scene where Lyla and Ryle meet and I connected with it instantly. In it, we learn that Lyla’s father has died, and that he used to hit her mother.

From the blurb, I thought there would be a love triangle, but what we get is more complicated than that. Our other leading man, Atlas, is introduced via old journal entries that Lyla finds and reads in the present. Even though he eventually appears later in the book, it never translated as a triangle to me. Lyla’s explanation of Atlas as a wave that came over her when she was a teen and left his mark on her shore worked very well for me.

We get to see Ryle and Lyla be really good together. And then, five seconds happen. Five seconds when everything changes. The first time Ryle pushes her, it felt like it came out of nowhere. Which I think was the whole point – you’re supposed to be as shocked as Lyla is. This, more than anything, felt very true to life. This is how life happens. This is how hearts break and souls shatter. Suddenly.

We see Lyla’s thoughts, questioning what happened and trying to make sense of it, both making excuses for him and at the same time recognizing that’s just what they are – excuses. Of course, she gives him another chance. Of course, the abuse gets worse. In those moments, Lyla’s heartbreak felt so real. Everything in this book felt so incredibly real. She can see he loves her, and she loves him so much too. So what do you do? What would *you* do?

Throughout the book she keeps having to re-evaluate everything she ever thought she knew about her parents’ relationship. She hated her father for hitting her mother, and cursed her mother for being weak and staying with him. But reality is never black and white, especially when you’re no longer on the outside looking in. How do you leave someone you love? Someone who loves you and is so good to you, except for a few seconds once in a while?
Keep swimming, the book tells you, and be brave and bold.

In the end, they have a daughter, and she divorces him. She refuses to continue the cycle of abuse and give her daughter the same kind of home she herself had. She says to her: It ends with us. And to me, this is the best ending she could have.

After that, we still get an epilogue. We see Ryle be a good father, and we see Lyla giving in to her lingering love for Atlas. But that’s another story for another time.
In this story, she makes the hardest decision of her life, and she survives.

To me, it all comes back to that initial scene when they meet. When Ryle says, there are no bad people, there’s just people who do bad things, it struck a chord with me. We’re all just people, doing the best we can. This book makes you reflect on a really important issue, and more importantly, it challenges you to see it from a perspective that maybe you haven’t considered before. Any book that opens your eyes and your heart to other people can only be good. And this one was very good.

 

4 hearts out of 5.

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