It Ends With Us
by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria Books
Book 1 in the It Ends With Us duology
Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.
Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up — she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
It Ends With Us is written by Colleen Hoover, and centers around Lily, a successful young woman who finds herself falling for Ryle Kincaid, a neurosurgeon who is everything she wants in a partner. Sweet, sensitive, intelligent, and fun, and seems to be willing to bend his personal rules for for dating with Lily. Things are great - until Atlas Corrigan comes into her life. Her first love, first everything, and an intense reminder of a difficult past. Does this piece of her past threaten her future with the man she now loves?
It Ends With Us has been on my TBR for a while now. At the point I picked up this book, I had only read two series' written by Colleen Hoover, and they were both YA. I enjoyed them though, so I knew I would love a more adult book from her. And I did. It wasn't what I expected. At all. But it made this book all the more brilliant. And that is what I think It Ends With Us is. Brilliant. A testament to great writing. A book that makes you think on the topics involved at a deeper, more personal level. To be completely honest, I don't know if I have read a book that has affected me as much as this one has. It Ends With Us is one of the most real, brutal, emotional books I have ever read. The characters are great, and for all different reasons. Lily felt like a character a reader could really relate to. I did, in a way. The relationships - both romantic, friendships, and familial - were written beautifully, and real. I know I said "real" already, but that's what comes to my mind. Because I'm not being dramatic here when I tell you, this book has wrecked me. Not in a bad way. I don't think so, anyways. But I shit you not, I read this book 3 weeks ago, and I still get emotional thinking about it. Like crying emotional. That is how impactful this book was.
To really talk about my thoughts and feelings with this book - and believe me, there are a lot - I need to move on to spoilers. If you haven't read this book, DO NOT READ THE REST OF THIS REVIEW. I mean it. You need to experience this book with no spoilers. Go buy the eBook, pick up the paperback, and read it. Then come back, read what I got to say, and tell me your thoughts and feelings. Because I know you will have them.
Now. Spoilers. You've been warned.
Whew. I kid you not, I haven't cried like that in a long time. The last 2 hours reading this book, I cried. Ugly cried. Because Colleen wrote a masterful book here. Why does a woman stay when her partner abuses her? Lily thinks it. Colleen admits to thinking it herself. Fuck, I thought it. Yet Colleen wrote a story that, at least for me, answers that question. How? Along with Lily, I got her feelings for Ryle. I loved him. He was cocky, sure, but he was fun, and sexy and they were happy. Until they were not. The moment their relationship changes forever. Changed the tone of the book. When he hits her. And it feels like you, the reader, was hit. I swear I felt that slap. I remember thinking "No. No, not Ryle." I felt Lily's hurt, and turmoil. And like her, while in the back of my head, I knew it wasn't an accident, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Gave him a chance. Only for it to happen again. And again. I was heartbroken for her. Hell, even for him. And THAT IS THE MINDFUCK. I should hate him. And believe me, I think Lily makes the right choice in the end by leaving him. But I don't hate him. He is obviously a very broken man after what happened in the past. It's not an excuse. It's not a reason that should be used for Lily to stay with him. But he is broken. So I can't hate him. And I question myself. Should I hate him? Am I making excuses? As I said. Mindfuck. But damn. What a good one.
The answer to why women stay in abusive situations? Because it's not black and white. It's hard to leave the person you love. Even if that person doesn't deserve your love. Lily had support to leave her situation, but many people don't.
I can't talk about this book without talking about Atlas. Because let's be honest, Atlas is fucking GOALS. I was worried I would hate the journal entries. Having them written as letters to Ellen was brilliant. But just like I fell for Ryle through Lily's eyes, I fell for Atlas through her entries. He actually reminds me of my first love, who is sadly no longer here (he made the opposite choice that Atlas made in that house). How their relationship ends when they are teenagers is heartbreaking. Brutal. Which seems to be a running theme in Lily's life. Atlas as an adult is just wonderful. I love his arc from his situation as a teenager to where he is now. I love that as soon as he see's Lily, he steps in to protect her. Within minutes. I love that while he obviously wants her to leave Ryle, he doesn't pressure her. He doesn't force anything. He becomes a safe space for her. He is the first one she calls when she needs help. I just love Atlas. He is perfect.
The end of this book is truly bittersweet. My heart broke for Ryle in the moment where he is holding his baby girl, and Lily tells him she wants a divorce. And while it killed him, Lily's question was truly eye-opening for him. What would he tell his daughter to do if her husband hit her? When he started to cry, and say he would beg her to leave him ... truly heart wrenching. I do believe that Ryle hates himself for what he has done to Lily. I believe he loves her. But he can't keep her safe, and in the end, he realizes it. It seems to work out. They seem to have a healthy co-parenting situation going on. And when Lily see's Atlas and chases after him ... I loved it. But I wanted more of Atlas and Lily. Which, thankfully for all of us, Colleen's next book, It Starts With Us, comes out this October, and begins where it ended in the last book. YAY!
Read this book NOW. Then preorder the next one. It's worth the breakdown, I promise.
Ryle: "So what's your middle name, Lily Bloom?"
I groan, which makes him perk up.
Ryle: "You mean it gets worse?"
I drop my head in my hands and nod.
I shake my head.
Lily: "I wish."
I cringe and then mutter
There's a moment of silence.
Ryle: "There is no such thing as bad people. We're all just people who sometimes do bad things."
Ryle: "Wow. You're kind of my hero. You just roasted a dead guy."
Lily: "That's tacky."
Ryle: "Yeah, well. Naked truth hurts."
Lucy: "You work today?"
Lily: "Nope. I have bereavement leave until Monday."
She stops in her tracks.
Lucy: "Lucky bitch."
Lily: "Yes, Lucy. I'm so lucky my father died."
Ryle: "I won't charge you for this, but only because I'm slightly inebriated."
I tilt my head.
Lily: "The first time I met you, you were high. Now you're drunk. I'm beginning to worry you aren't going to make a very qualified neurosurgeon."
Lily: "You want to hear a naked truth?"
Lily: "I've wanted to go back to your roof on more than one occasion since that night. But I was too scared you'd be there. You make me kind of nervous."
His fingers pause their strokes against my foot.
Ryle: "My turn?"
His eyes narrow as his hand moves to the underneath of my foot. He slowly traces his fingers from the tops of my toes, down to my heel.
Ryle: 'I still very much want to fuck you."
Someone gasps, but it isn't me.
Ryle and I both look at the doorway and Allysa is standing there, wide-eyed. Her mouth is open as she points down at Ryle.
Allysa: "Did you just ..."
She looks at me and says
Allysa: "I am so sorry about him, Lily."
And then she looks back at Ryle with venom in her eyes.
Allysa: "Did you just tell my boss you want to fuck her?"
Ryle pulls his bottom lip in and chews on it for a second. Marshall walks in behind Allysa and says
Marshall: "What's going on?"
Allysa looks at Marshall and points at Ryle again.
Allysa: "He just told Lily he wants to fuck her!"
Marshall looks from Ryle to me. I don't know whether to laugh or crawl under the table and hide.
Marshall: "You did?"
he says, looking back at Ryle.
Ryle: "It appears that way."
Allysa puts her head in her hands.
Allysa: "Jesus Christ. He's drunk. They're both drunk. Please don't judge me because my brother is an asshole."
I smile at her and wave her off.
Lily: "It's fine, Allysa. Lots of people want to fuck me."
Ryle: "Do you have any idea how many doors I've knocked on to find you?"
I shake my head, because I don't. But now that he mentions it - how in the hell does he know where I live?
Then he holds up his hands and repeats the numbers with his fingers while he whispers
Ryle: "Two ... Nine."
Ryle: "I'm really good at it, Lily. You'll barely even have to do any work."
I try not to laugh, but his determination is as endearing as it is annoying.
Lily: "Goodnight, Ryle."
He turns and walks out of the store. As soon as the door closes behind him, Allysa is grabbing for the envelope.
Allysa: "Who the hell is he sending flowers to? Ryle doesn't send flowers."
She reads the front of the card out loud.
Allysa: "Make it stop."
Lily: "Holy shit. You actually live here?"
Allysa: "I know. And to think, I didn't even have to marry him for money. Marshall had seven bucks and drove a Ford Pinto when I fell in love with him."
Lily: "Doesn't he still drive a Ford Pinto?"
Allysa: "Yeah, but we have a lot of good memories in that car."
Lily: "How do you know it was him? Did he introduce himself?"
He shakes his head.
Devin: "Nah, but he overheard Marshall introducing me to someone as 'Lily's date.' I thought the look he gave me was going to set me on fire. That's why I came in here. I like you, but I'm not willing to die for you."
Ryle: "I had that picture made the day after I took it. It's been in my apartment for months now, because you were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen and I wanted to look at it every single day."
Ryle: "And that night I showed up at your door? I went searching for you because no one in the history of my life has ever crawled under my skin and refused to leave like you did. I didn't know how to handle it. And the reason I sent you flowers this week is because I am really, really proud of you for following your dream. But if I sent you flowers every time I've had the urge to send you flowers, you wouldn't even be able to fit inside your apartment. Because that's how much I think about you."
Lily: "Growing things felt like a reward."
I could feel Atlas staring at me when he asked
Atlas: "A reward for what?"
Lily: "For loving my plants the right way. Plants reward you based on the amount of love you show them. If you're cruel or neglect them, they give you nothing. But if you care for them and love them the right way, they reward you with gifts in the form of vegetables or fruits or flowers."
I looked down at the weed I was tearing apart in my hands and there was barely an inch left of it. It wadded it up between my fingers and flicked it.
I didn't want to look over at Atlas because I could still feel him staring, so instead, I just stared out over my mulch-covered garden.
Atlas: "We're just alike."
My eyes flicked to his.
Lily: "Me and you?"
He shook his head.
Atlas: "No. Plants and humans. Plants need to be loved the right way to survive. So do humans. We rely on our parents from birth to love us enough to keep us alive. And if our parents show us the right kind of love, we turn out as better humans overall. But if we're neglected..."
His voice grew quiet. Almost sad. He wiped his hands on his knees, trying to get some of the dirt off.
Atlas: "If we're neglected, we end up homeless and incapable of anything meaningful."
His words made my heart feel like the mulch he had just laid out. I didn't even know what to say to that. Does he really think that about himself?
He acted like he was about to get up, but before he did I said his name.
He sat back down in the grass. I pointed at the row of trees that lined the fence to the left of the yard.
Lily: "You see that tree over there?"
In the middle of the row of trees was an oak tree that stood taller than all the rest of the trees.
Atlas glanced over at it and dragged his eyes all the way up to the top of the tree.
Lily: "It grew on its own. Most plants do need a lot of care to survive. But some things, like trees, are strong enough to do it by just relying on themselves and nobody else."
Ryle: "You were so right."
Lily: "About what?"
Ryle: "You warned me. You said one time with you wouldn't be enough. You said you were like a drug. But you failed to tell me you were the most addictive kind."
Lily: "You're my favorite person."
I felt him laugh a little and it made him smile.
Atlas: "Out of how many people?"
Lily: "All of them."
He kissed the top of my head and said
Atlas: "You're my favorite person, too, Lily. By a long shot."
Lily: "Mom, he was trying to rape you!"
She ducked her head and winced when I said that. She shook her head again and said,
Mom: "It's not like that, Lily. We're married, and sometimes marriage is just ... you're too young to understand it."
Lily: "I hope to hell I never do."
Lily: "Well, you make it sound like the best place in the world. Like everything is better in Boston."
He looked at me and his eyes were sad when he said
Atlas: "Everything is almost better in Boston. Except the girls. Boston doesn't have you."
Mom: A doctor, Lily? AND your own business? I want to be you when I grow up.
Marshall: "Bruins game. Free beer. Suit up, team!"
Allysa groans and says
Allysa: "Marshall, you made six million dollars this year. Do we really need free beer?"
He shoves a finger against her lips, pushing them in opposite directions.
Marshall: "Shh! Don't speak like a rich girl, Issa. Blasphemy."
Allysa: "Okay, a party. I walked into the kitchen and Marshall was standing there pressed up against some floozy."
Marshall: "She wasn't a floozy. She was an ice girl. Tasted like cheetos, but ..."
Allysa glares at him so he shuts up. She turns back to me.
Allysa: "I lost it. I started yelling at him to take his whores to his own house. The girl was literally so terrified of me, she ran for the door and didn't come back."
Marshall: "Cock blocker."
Allysa punches him in the shoulder.
Allysa: "Anyway. After I cock blocked him, I ran to my room, embarrassed that I did that. It was out of pure jealousy, and I didn't even realize I liked him that way until I saw his hands on some other girls ass. I threw myself on my bed and started crying. A few minutes later, he walked into my room and asked me if I was okay. I rolled over and yelled, 'I like you, you stupid fuck-face!'"
Marshall: "And the rest is history ..."
Lily: "Awe. Stupid fuck-face. How sweet."
Ryle holds up a finger and says
Ryle: "You're leaving out the best part."
Allysa: "Oh yeah. So Marshall walked over to me, pulled me off the bed, kissed me with the same mouth he was just kissing the floozy with, and we made out for half an hour. Ryle walked in on us and started screaming at Marshall. Then Marshall pushed Ryle out of my bedroom, locked the door, and made out with me for another hour."
Ryle is shaking his head.
Ryle: "Betrayed by my best friend."
Marshall pulls Allysa to him.
Marshall: "I like her, you stupid fuck-face."
Ryle: "Have I already mentioned tonight how much I like you?"
Lily: "Once or twice."
Ryle: "Consider this a third time. I like you. Everything about you, Lily. Being inside you. Being outside of you. Being near you. I like it all."
Allysa: "He asked for you. And I know you're with my brother and I'm with child, but can we please just take a moment to silently admire the perfection that is that man?"
She smiled dreamily and I roll my eyes.
Allysa: "Those eyes, though."
She opens the door and walks out. I follow behind her and catch sight of Atlas.
Allysa: "She's right here. Would you like me to take your coat?"
We don't take coats.
Atlas glances up when I walk out of my office. His eyes cut to Allysa and he shakes his head.
Atlas: "No, thank you. I won't be long."
Allysa leans forward over the counter, dropping her chin on her hands.
Allysa: "Stay as long as you like. In fact, are you looking for an extra job? Lily needs to hire ore people and we're looking for someone who can lift really heavy things. Requires a lot of flexibility. Bending over."
I narrow my eyes at Allysa and mouth
Atlas says just keep swimming.
Atlas: "I'm going to make a promise to you. When my life is good enough for you to be a part of it, I'll come find you. But I don't want you to wait around for me, because that might never happen."
I didn't like that promise, because it meant one of two things. Either he thought he might never make it out of the military alive, or he didn't think his life would ever be good enough for me.
His life was already good enough for me, but I nodded my head and forced a smile.
Lily: "If you don't come back for me, I'll come for you. And it won't be pretty, Atlas Corrigan."
Imagine all the people you meet in your life. there are so many. They come in like waves, trickling in and out with the tide. Some waves are much bigger and make more of an impact than others. Sometimes the waves bring with them things from deep in the bottom of the sea and they leave those things tossed onto the shore. Imprints against the grains of sand that prove the waves had once been there, long after the tide recedes.
That was what Atlas was telling me when he said "I love you." He was letting me know that I was the biggest wave he'd ever come across. And I brought so much with me that my impressions would always be there, even when the tide rolled out.
Until he comes back for me, I'm just going to keep pretending to be okay. I'll keep pretending to swim, when really all I'm doing is floating. Barely keeping my head above water.
Lily: "Does she know we live together? Is she okay with that? I mean, we aren't married. She goes to church every Sunday. Oh, no, Ryle! What if your mother thinks I'm a blashemous whore?"
Ryle nudges his head toward the apartment door and I spin around to see him mother standing in the doorway, a layer of shock on her face.
Ryle: "Mother, meet Lily. My blasphemous whore."
Oh dear God.
Ryle: "You are my wife. I'm supposed to be the one who protect you from the monsters. I'm not supposed to be one."
I think of all the people who have been in this situation before me. Everyone who will be in this situation after me. Do we all repeat the same words in our heads in the days after experiencing abuse at the hands of those who love us? "From this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part."
Maybe those vows weren't meant to be taken as literally as some spouses take them.
For better, for worse?
he whispers, still holding me tightly.
Atlas: "I know this is the last thing you need to hear right now. But I have to say it because I've walked away from you too many times without saying what I really want to say."
He pulls back to look down at me and when he sees my tears, he brings his hands up to my cheeks.
Atlas: "In the future ... if by some miracle you ever find yourself in the position to fall in love again ... fall in love with me."
He presses his lips against my forehead.
Atlas: "You're still my favorite person, Lily. Always will be."
Allysa: "My brother loves you, Lily. He loves you so much. You have changed his entire life and have made him someone that I never thought he could be. As his sister, I wish more than anything that you could find a way to forgive him. But as your best friend, I have to tell you that if you take him back, I will never speak to you again."
I have no idea what he's been through?
I shake my head, slowly.
Lily: "You have no idea, Ryle."
I stand up, the anger and hatred spilling out of me. I spin, pointing at him.
Lily: "You have no idea! You have no idea what it's like to go through what you've put me through! To fear for your life at the hands of the man you love? To get physically sick just thinking about what he's done to you? You have no idea, Ryle! None! Fuck you! Fuck you for doing this to me!"
I suck in a huge breath, shocked at myself. The anger just came like a wave. I swipe at my tears and spin around, unable to look at him.
Ryle: "Lily, I don't ..."
I yell, spinning around again.
Lily: "I am not finished! You don't get to say your truth until I've said mine!"
He's grabbing his jaw, squeezing the stress out of it. He drops his eyes to the floor, unable to look at the rage in mine. I take three steps toward him and drop to my knees. I place my hands on his legs, forcing him to look me straight in the eyes while I speak to him.
Lily: "Yes. I kept the magnet Atlas gave me when we were kids. Yes. I kept the journals. No, I didn't tell you about my tattoo. Yes, I probably should have. And yes, I still love him. And I'll love him until I die, because he was a huge part of my life. And yes, I'm sure that hurts you. But none of that gave you the right to do what you did to me. Even if you would have walked into my bedroom and caught us in bed together, you still would not have had the right to lay a hand on me, you goddamn son of a bitch!"
Mom: "We all have a limit. What we're willing to put up with before we break. When I married your father, I knew exactly what my limit was. But slowly ... with every incident ... my limit was pushed a little more. And a little more. The first time your father hit me, he was immediately sorry. He swore it would never happen again. The second time he hit me, he was even more sorry. The third time it happened, it was more than a hit. It was a beating. And every single time, I took him back. But the fourth time, it was only a slap. And when that happened, I felt relived. I remember thinking, 'At least he didn't beat me this time. This wasn't so bad."
She brings the napkin up to her eyes and says,
Mom: "Every incident chips away at your limit. Every time you choose to stay, it makes the next time that much harder to leave. Eventually, you lose sight of your limit altogether, because you start to think, 'I've lasted five years now. What's five more?'
She grabs my hands and holds them while I cry.
Mom: "Don't be like me, Lily. I know that you believe he loves you, and I'm sure he does. But he'd not loving you the right way. He doesn't love you the way you deserve to be loved. If Ryle truly loves you, he wouldn't allow you to take him back. He would make the decision to leave you himself so he knows for a fact he can never hurt you again. That's the kind of love a woman deserves, Lily."
Atlas: "Lily. I feel like my life is good enough for you now. So whenever you're ready ..."
I clench his jacket in my hands and keep my face pressed tight against his chest. I suddenly feel like I'm fifteen again. My neck and cheeks flush from his words.
But I'm not fifteen.
I'm an adult with responsibilities and a child. I can't just allow my teenage feelings to take over. Not without a little reassurance, at least.
I pull back and look up at him.
Lily: "Do you donate to charity?"
Atlas laughs with confusion.
Atlas: "Several. Why?"
Lily: "Do you want kids someday?"
Atlas: "of courses I do."
Lily: "Do you think you'll ever want to leave Boston?"
He shakes his head.
Atlas: "No. Never. Everything is better here, remember?"
His answers give me the reassurance I need. I smile up at him.
Lily: "Okay. I'm ready."