Review: It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover 2016 – Babbling Books

it-ends-with-usMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

end with us is an important and powerful novel. it may not be a perfect book, but the way domestic violence is addressed is vital to maturing the conversation about the topic in contemporary literature. it’s a deeply personal story, full of raw emotions, yet very human, accessible, and relatable.

The novel opens with the protagonist, Lily Bloom, reflecting on the eulogy she just delivered, or rather refused to deliver, at her father’s funeral. it sets the tone for the story, being both flippant in some ways and emotionally complex in others. The book traces her life and loves after her father’s death, with memories of the past through a series of diary entries. I loved these snippets that were amusingly directed at ellen degeneres, because the tone was perfect to contrast with adult lily’s maturity.

One of the most powerful things about fiction is that it gives readers the opportunity to experience something in depth, without having to leave their own lives. With a book like this dealing with the physical and emotional trauma of abuse, violence, fear, hope, self-loathing, and love, there’s something incredibly important about putting that emotional conflict front and center. readers experience these feelings from both a child’s and an adult’s perspective, which is essential to gaining true empathy for the complexity of both experiences. it is this that gives the novel its power and makes it important.

This book is not full of gratuitous violence, nor does it idealize the consequences of the few acts of violence that do occur. the ripples created by those acts of violence flow throughout the story and encourage exploration of the impact that memory and fear of violence creates. the focus is firmly on exploring the emotional complexity that comes with power imbalances in relationships, not simply condemning the violence and moving on to “recovery” as many novels do.

However, there were a few things that frustrated me about this novel. the former is perhaps quite minor because the scene is of little importance in the scheme of the novel, but it still grates on my nerves after finishing that book. it is the superficial and symbolic inclusion of a gay character for the sole reason of awkwardly advancing the plot. this is a perfect example of how not to include diversity in a novel. the character appears in one scene and never appears again, he behaves in the most ridiculous way, more like a cartoon than a person, and his actions and lily’s response were completely out of alignment. Would I let an ex-co-worker I hadn’t seen in 6 months, specifically because we weren’t very close, touch my boobs in an elevator? No. regardless of her sexuality, that’s completely inappropriate. Having the same guy pretend to be her boyfriend to make a love interest jealous is also the height of cliche and was completely unnecessary and demeaning for a character who played no other role in the story.

my other frustration is that we learn so little about lily outside of her role as a victim/survivor. the book focuses heavily on the ripples that abuse creates in people’s lives, which is one of the story’s great strengths, but unfortunately this means we miss discovering all the things that make it relatable. it’s clear from the plot progression that she has a passion for flowers and a flair for business, but none of that seemed real to me. he never seemed to include her work in his decision-making, although she told herself several times that it was important to her. There’s an important difference between telling and showing, and when it came to other dimensions of Lily’s character, I felt like there was a lot more to the surface “telling.”

despite its flaws, this is an important novel, delving into a difficult subject with care and insight. brings to the surface the deeply complex nature of intimate partner abuse. I have to applaud hoover for writing what was obviously a very personal story and for choosing to end it the way he did.

suitable for readers ages 17 and up. trigger violence warnings & attempted rape.

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