It would be inappropriate to say that Colleen Hoover’s ‘It Ends With Us’ is just a romance novel. It is about human relationships, sacrifices, and a reality check that sneaks up on the reader, especially the one who had picked the book for a bit of light reading.
I was walking around the Karachi Airport with a two-hour delay to kill and wandered to the bookshop, and after half-hearted attempts to resist the lure of romance books, I sneaked over to the pinks and lilacs of the romcoms, and amidst them, I picked this. I had been familiar with her work but not a fan since I’d found the books a bit of a drag and honestly too sad. I read the blurb and liked that most of the praise called the book brave and that it clawed onto the reader, refusing to leave the headspace long after you have put the book down. I googled the title, and the extremely reliable Goodreads rating gave it a whopping 4.44/5 and bought it then and there.
By the time my flight landed in Islamabad, I had run out of tissue paper, and my cheeks hurt from smiling. I was absolutely hooked. The book wants you to cut open a part of your body and keep it there but also grab hold of everyone you meet and make them read it.
The book follows the story of Lily Bloom, a sweet woman who’s embarking on the journey of starting her own business venture of a floral boutique. It hints at a previous relationship through her diary entries which she addresses to Ellen of The Ellen Show, who is her comfort character throughout her childhood. She navigates falling in love with a sexy neurosurgeon, Ryle, who is literally a dream come true. Lily’s whirlwind romance comes to a screeching halt when very subtly, Colleen Hoover makes Ryle shows signs of violent temper, and the fantasy romance bubble bursts when the dots connect and Ryle is fully abusive. The reader does not immediately spot the subtle grace with which she knits reality, and even in my own head, I kept justifying Ryle’s behavior as one-off incidences and circumstances. The way Lily extracts herself out of a fairytale turned grim nightmare is nuanced and remarkable, and all throughout, it is done effortlessly. The book keeps you glued to the edge of the seat.
It tackles Lily’s turbulent relationship with her father, her silent mother, and her own past trauma, which she refuses to let repeat. Her very active decision to break a generational cycle of abuse is the highlight of the book. Without giving spoilers, the book ends on an uplifting and positive note, with a sequel coming out sometime later this year. Lily’s struggle and her inner monologues resonate for most survivors and especially those who have faced abuse but did not understand or recognize it as such. It leaves the reader with a feeling of being seen and acknowledges that the idea we have of ‘not that bad’ when describing our own issues is harmful.
It is important to mention a trigger warning as the novel contains explicit mention of physical and emotional abuse.