Dear Mrs. Hoover,
Your newest release, It Ends With Us, was not just a book to me. It wasn’t good. It was phenomenal. It wasn’t a page-turner. It was a I’m-crying-so-hard-I-can’t-see-the-pages-anymorer. It wasn’t powerful. It was I-was-just-bulldozed-by-a-semi-save-me-now.
This book made me feel so much pain I wanted to rip it to shreds. I wanted to bury it in the backyard and forget I ever picked it up. It opened up a shit ton of old wounds for me and tore open scars I never knew still existed inside me.
I identified with Lily. I identified with Ryle.
I identified with your message.
It ends with all of us.
The cycle of abuse is a vicious one that Hoover attacks head-on, no-holds-barred. This book is primal, chaotic, devastating and terrifying. When Lily meets Ryle, a charming and handsome neurosurgeon, she quickly falls in lust, then in love with him. But his dark, abusive side makes her question their relationship, and how far she’s willing to go to maintain it. Growing up in an abusive family, Lily saw first-hand the type of devastation physical abuse could do to a family. Her dad beat up her mom, over and over, and she was too helpless to change anything. She shelters and falls in love with a homeless boy, Atlas Corrigan, who leaves for the Marines when she’s still a teenager. They reconnect years later in Boston, and their reunion triggers unimaginable jealousy inside Ryle, Lily’s boyfriend (and later, husband). A series of misunderstandings eventually leads Ryle to physically abuse Lily and she’s trapped between a) leaving or b) forgiving the man who holds her heart.
This book is loaded with emotional triggers that will leave bullet holes in your heart. Be prepared.
The writing is gorgeous. You don’t even realize you’re reading a book until you sit up, look around you and realize where you are. It sucks you in and doesn’t let go until the very last sentence.
The characters are supremely flawed, three-dimensional, heart-breaking and so, so real. Lily isn’t just Lily. She embodies every woman who’s ever suffered at the hands of a man, whether it’s suffering physically, mentally or emotionally. She embodies every survivor who every stood up to their attacker, and defended their God-given right to be free from tyranny. Lily is a fighter who rises above the waves, and her motto, Just Keep Swimming, is one that I’ve also owned for almost a decade. Lily was real to me. As real as anyone I’ve ever met. Because I identified with everything she went through. Her pain was once my pain. Her dilemmas, once mine too.
There is no black and white; only gray. Sometimes good people do bad things.
Sometimes good people do bad things.
Ryle. He pushes the limits of his relationship with Lily, each act of violence escalating further than the last. An accidental shove becomes another one that has Lily tumbling down the stairs. The final assault scene was, of course, the most horrific of them all, and its consequences devastated both parties for the rest of their lives.
In some ways, I identified with Ryle too. I could see that he was intelligent, witty, caring, charming and that he truly loved Lily and meant well. Of course, his fractured past and traumatized youth, though it wasn’t an excuse, did shed some light on his current actions. Did I feel bad for him? Yes, in some ways, but mostly, no. He was a gray man, with good and with bad…but he didn’t deserve Lily. He squandered all of his chances and got what he deserved in the end.
Lily is a symbol of hope. She rose above when her mother couldn’t. When she almost couldn’t bring herself to leave, she did it for her baby daughter. Of course, it isn’t until the very last sentence of the book that you finally understand what the book’s title truly means.
It ends with us. That’s what Lily tells her newborn daughter. The cycle of abuse ends with them. She refuses to perpetuate the horror she endured as a child and made a bold and brave decision to choose a broken home for her daughter over an abusive one. Her choice is one many, many women in similar situations never make. Colleen’s message is clear: don’t perpetuate the cycle. It ends with all of us. We all make the conscious decision to leave abusive situations, whether it’s abusive parents, spouses, friends…The hardest part is becoming conscious of the problem and taking steps to solve it in a healthy way.
This book is a movement. It will change lives all over the world, I’m certain of it.
Everyone should read it, no matter what background they come from. Not only is it a revolutionary piece of literature, it delivered pathos and touched my soul in ways no book ever has. I can’t ever rate it properly, because how can you give a rating to something that makes you see the world in a whole new way?