Trigger warnings: domestic abuse, physical abuse, attempted rape
There’s no denying that It Ends With Us is an iconic, important read that definitely cements Colleen Hoover as an author of choice. However, as I’ve felt before for a long time, I do think readers need to go into her books with caution – given the heavy handed use of triggering topics that seem to pop up either for the shock value, or for a big “twist”.
It Ends With Us is no different. It is heavily marketed as a romance book, and the blurb even seems to hint at the love triangle for Lily Bloom. While it does feature these aspects, it takes a back seat to the prevalent topic of domestic abuse survival and the cyclical nature of it.
Because Colleen Hoover is a romance author, the tone of It Ends With Us felt a bit off for me. I appreciate what this book is meant to do, to highlight the grey area between domestic violence in a relationship, and the love that you might feel for the abuser – always explaining their actions away, and wanting to erase the consequences for it – only for it to occur again, and again.
Seeing Ryle in Lily’s eyes, the reader is meant to fall in love with him and appreciate all the charming aspects of Ryle, the neurosurgeon with a dark past. However, from the get go, I felt really icky about his actions – from begging Lily to have sex with him, to knocking on 28 doors just to find where she lived, to taking out his anger on a chair in their very first meeting. Something about Ryle was a bit unhinged, and not quite right, and all his oozy charm and sweet talking just felt suspicious and a tiny bit desperate.
I read about “love bombing” a while ago, which is a controlling abuse tactic used by manipulators to gain affection, and then enact their tactics later on. I could spot it here immediately, and Ryle definitely fits the bill here. Sadly, Lily falls prey to his tactics, and will come to suffer later on.
The issue I have with It Ends With Us, lies fact to how Ryle never really reaps the consequences of his actions. Except for Lily refusing to have him in his life. Not only is there physical abuse, unwanted affection and pressure to have sex, but there’s also attempted rape. While I can appreciate how It Ends With Us explores the grey within domestic violence in a relationship – as often it’s listed as black and white – this is such a complicated topic. Although his actions which get more and more abhorrent at every turn, Lily is still very much in love with him.
There’s also the prevalent message that inherently there are “no bad people, just good people doing bad things” but Ryle tends to be excused one too many times.
I did appreciate this book, and the message that it conveyed, with Lily breaking the cyclical nature of abuse within her family. I did however have an issue with the characterisation, and wish it was highlighted in more certainty of what it was. I am glad that this book has become quite popular, because it is an important read, provided readers come into it armed with knowledge of what it is about. The marketing of this book is way off though – it’s not some fluffy second chance romance. It’s a domestic abuse survival story, and should be treated as such.
Check out Jenna’s review on It Ends With Us for her thoughts on it!
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