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After reading Verity by Colleen Hoover, I knew It Ends With Us would be just as good. Side note: if you haven’t read Verity, stop what you’re doing and go read this book (and then come back to this review!). Seriously. Your mind will be blown, without a doubt. You can read all about what I had to say here.
Anyway – when I originally read the brief overview of It Ends With Us on the inside cover, I admit I wasn’t immediately drawn. It seemed like it was way more of a love story than Verity, and I don’t typically like to read “romance” novels or love stories. I wanted to give it a chance, though, because I know how great this author is. Let me just say that I am so glad I did. While yes, at the surface, this book is a love story, it’s also a story about resilience and the strength a woman can possess in her most challenged and vulnerable moments.
Lily is a young twenty-something living in Boston with a haunted past. She’s just buried her father after his battle with cancer and when asked to stand up at his funeral to deliver a eulogy of all the things people loved most about her father, she stood in silence for a full two minutes. Lily’s father was violently abusive to her mother throughout her entire childhood. On most occasions, Lily would witness his violent attacks and would silently beg her mother to leave him and question why she never did.
To escape her father, Lily moves to Boston after college where she opens her own business (a flower shop accredited to her name and love of flowers) and meets the man of her dreams. Ryles is everything Lily never knew she needed; he’s a neurosurgeon, tall, gorgeous, and sensitive. Their relationship feels like a dream and she has no idea how she hit the love lottery.
In the midst of reading about Lily and Ryles’ relationship progression, we get glimpses of Lily’s childhood. While home for her father’s funeral, she found her old journals from high school where she would write to Ellen DeGeneres every day (she had an infatuation with her show and hoped someday she’d have the courage to send her the letters). As Lily reminisces on her past through her journal entries, we not only discover her violent past living in a broken home but we learn about her first love Atlas, a senior at her high school who also happened to be homeless.
When we learn about Lily’s relationship with Atlas, we discover how caring and kind she is. What started out as a platonic friendship where Lily would sneak Atlas into her home while her parents were away so he could shower, get clean clothes and stock up on food and water, eventually led to much more. Lily radiates with love and the expression “heart of gold” seems to have been coined after her.
When Lily’s past resurfaces just as she’s reached her peak in Boston, she’s left to question everything she’s ever believed. Is she a hypocrite or is she simply looking for the best in everyone she meets? Did she ever get closure with her first love and is her life with Ryles as perfect as portrayed?
It Ends With Us is a heroic story of Lily, a woman who simply wants to believe, despite her past, that there are no bad people, but people who just do bad things sometimes. She’s been beaten down and broken more so than others, yet still remains hopeful that her happy ending will come.
This book will force you to ponder what you would do if you were in Lily’s situation; it’s a perfect portrayal that not every situation is black and white, that life has many grey areas that aren’t easy to decipher once you’re the one in the situation. It Ends With Us is resilient, strong and thought-provoking and I guarantee you will walk away more open-minded than when you started.