Wednesday, October 5, 2016
"It Ends with Us" by Colleen Hoover
"All humans make mistakes. What determines a person's character aren't the mistakes we make. It's how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses."
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
This earned four out of five stars because the parts that I really did not like were redeemed by super stellar sections that really resonated with me.
I decided I had to acquire this book because it has so many amazing reviews. I was impressed, and I had to know what the hype was about. I knew it was about abuse, but that was all I knew about it going into it and this was my first Colleen Hoover read (and probably my last due to the following paragraph).
I did not know that there would be at least half a dozen or so graphic sex scenes. This is my main complaint with this novel, as I don't think they were necessary to the plot. If anything, I felt like the detailed sex scenes diminished the true intimacy and value of Lily and Ryle's relationship because it seemed like their attraction to one another was purely physical from the beginning and through most of the plot. This made it difficult for me to empathize with Lily at first.
In fact, I argued with Lily for the first half of the book. I have replies scrawled in the margins next to Lily's thoughts, like "This is SO unhealthy!", "WHY?! Just tell him NO," "Yikes," and "Huge red flag." She gives Ryle way too much information about herself after they had just met. I honestly felt like she was not being wise and needed to have a better head on her shoulders when it came to guys (also a healthy amount of "stranger danger" which she seemed to have none of). Ryle obviously had some issues from the beginning, but she failed to see them. Also, besides being "beautiful" and rich and smart, I didn't find him that amazing. (My opinion, but I feel like he lacked truly attractive character qualities that matter when you're looking for a relationship.)
But, I did grow to really sympathize with Lily and see it from her perspective as the story continued. Although I was suspicious of Ryle, I was just as surprised as she was when the first "incident" happened. As the incidences continued, I was unsure what the best course of action for her would be. Should she leave? Or should she fight for the relationship? Would she go back to her first love, and should she go back to him? Hoover did an excellent job of showing the struggle and emotions that come with being in a victim of abuse, as I realized that the majority of situations are not black and white. I struggled with Lily as she processed through it, wanting to make it work but also fearing for her (and her daughter's) safety.
Hoover somehow had me second guessing the outcome of the novel up to the very end, and I admire her skill in being able to do that. Would Lily end up with Atlas? Should she fight for her marriage because of their daughter? I was kept on my toes up til the end.
And the end! Wow. I think it was done very well. Lily weighed her options and did nothing hastily. I felt like the end was perfect considering everything that had happened, and I LOVE that the title phrase "it ends with us" is not actually referring to the relationship with Ryle and Lily (as I had assumed for the majority of the novel). I won't say who it's referring to as to avoid spoilers. You'll have to read it for yourself. But I was quite satisfied with Lily's decision in the end. She grew and matured through the story, and I respected who she became.
If you don't mind wading through erotic love scenes, I'd recommend the book. If I had known about them, I probably wouldn't have read it as they were enough to make this married woman uncomfortable (I nearly stopped reading the book halfway). But I really appreciated how Hoover shed light on the issue of domestic abuse and painted it realistically. I hadn't really explored anything on this subject before, and I have a different perspective on women in abusive relationships after reading her book.
In closing, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Maybe love doesn't come full circle. It just ebbs and flows, in and out, just like the people in our lives."
"I feel like everyone fakes who they really are, when deep down we're all equal amounts of screwed up. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others."
"Naked truths aren't always pretty."
"Cycles exist because they are excruciating to break. I takes an astronomical amount of pain and courage to disrupt a familiar pattern. Sometimes it seems easier to just keep running in the same familiar circles, rather than facing the fear of jumping and possibly not landing on your feet."
And, my favorite: "It stops here. With me and you. It ends with us."