My biggest mistake was going into reading the book with really high expectations. I caught wind of how great the book was through TikTok, and after hearing so many people rave about it, I knew I had to buy a copy. Once I gave it a hundred pages and still wasn’t very interested in the content, I knew I would be disappointed. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t interested, but I knew it lacked something. After a lot of thinking, I concluded that the characters, although written to be deep and complex, were one-dimensional in their actions. To fall in love with a book, I need complex characters, and “It Ends With Us” just didn’t have that.
The novel follows a young twenty-something-year-old Lily and a mysterious doctor, Ryle. The two briefly meet early in the book atop an apartment rooftop until their paths cross again in a later chapter. Tension brews between the two, but it is shadowed by Ryles’s short temper and a past lover Lily has yet to move on from. When she finds an older diary of hers, she begins to relive her previous relationship, which only complicates her feelings even more. Things continue to pick up when Ryle starts to display some violent behaviors. I would tell you more, but I don’t want to ruin everything!
WARNING: Heavy spoilers!!!
As I mentioned before, I felt like the characters lacked depth, but I also felt like the story was unrealistic. I don’t have an issue with unrealistic novels if they know they are, but “It Ends With Us” was written as if it was trying to be realistic but slightly missed the mark. The story seemed artificial because every character had a happy ending despite some being undeserving of one. It seemed as though Hoover wrote a happy ending to preserve the romance at the beginning of the novel. Her explanation for Lily forgiving her abuser was rushed, odd and poorly written. Again, I felt like it was done only to save the romance and speed up the forgiveness process, which I find tasteless.
I think what frustrated me so much about this novel was that Hoover wrote it with the intent of Lily being a symbol of female empowerment, but it was anything but that. Lily depended on the men around her the whole book, and instead of healing after the abuse, she instantly rebounds. There was nothing realistic about her healing process if you can even say she had one. I was disappointed that her abuser was never forced to take accountability and was able to keep his reputation and family. The story seemed incomplete and disappointing.
Hoover could have taken a much different and more realistic route with Ryle’s character, and it might have saved the book a little. She could have spoken about how often successful men get away with domestic abuse because of their gender and class. If anything, this take on his character could have provided some social commentary on wealthy white men easily escaping consequences; instead, Hoover tried to defend the character’s actions. Again, it felt cheap that Hoover wrote off his abuse to keep the romance intact.
Although I heavily disliked the novel, I can see why this book is popular. It’s easy to read, it’s paced well, and towards the beginning, the romance is sweet, but this is not what makes a good book. A good book is filled with well-established characters who are dynamic and realistic. I felt like Hoover’s portrayals of abuse were shallow and her characters one-dimensional. Her inaccuracy of abuse was inevitably the downfall of the book and the reason I disliked it, but if you’re looking for an easy read to not think too much about, it may still be a good option.