If you are on any side of ‘BookTok’ TikTok, you’ve probably heard of this book. This is one of Colleen Hoover’s most popular novels, if not her most popular at the moment.
I came across this book while strolling through Books a Million, needing a book for the plane. On BookTok, I’d heard Colleen Hoover’s name mentioned numerous times as a beloved romance novelist. When I picked it up, before reading anything, my eyes initially picked up the words “from the small town in Maine” from the back cover description. As a Mainer, I knew that the imagery would be relatable which meant it would keep me hooked. I didn’t know how much hype it had on BookTok until after reading, now I fully understand why everyone loves it so much!
If you are from Maine or New England, you will especially relate to this book. The book is fully New England located, which is portrayed through Hoover’s writing. Little did I know how much this book would move me.
The novel follows Lily, a native Mainer, throughout her unfortunate high school years, while also being set in the present tense of her post-college grad living in Boston. Lily comes from a crappy home life situation, where she is able to make the best of things through her own specific coping mechanism of writing unsent letters. Hoover walks us through Lily’s high school first love with a homeless boy. Their relationship strikes the chord of a ‘I can’t trust anyone but you’ trope.
We also simultaneously read about Lily and her present day relationship with Ryle, a Bostonian neurosurgeon. In addition to the two storylines of Lily’s high school and adult relationship, we also follow a very powerful friendship with Lily’s new best friend, Allysa. Hoover is able to introduce all the characters so well that I felt close with all of them, especially Allysa.
As a native Mainer, I heavily connected to the Maine sense of place in this book which naturally made it more relatable. I am able to visually depict the imagery, especially the changing seasons.
The way Hoover introduced the characters, made each of the characters uniquely relatable, although not fully favorable. The character Ryle, although not my favorite man in Lily’s life, stated, “Anyone can have children. Anyone can get married. But not anyone can be a neurosurgeon. I get a lot of pride out of that. And I don’t just want to be a great neurosurgeon. I want to be the best in my field”, which I admire the truth and sincerity behind that quote. I found myself thinking back to that quote intermittently whilst reading the book as Ryle’s character fully develops. It shows Hoover’s real craft for character development.
I would give this book 5/5 stars because of the emotion Hoover pours into the pages. This book had me in tears multiple times, as I read this whole novel in one sitting, and definitely plan to re-read it on a rainy day. Even with the chapter’s interchanging timelines, it is easy to follow. Hoover knows how to write realistic representations of contemporary relationships as well as touching on some hard to read topics. You will not regret spending the $12 on this book, thank me later.
Generally speaking, this book covers themes of love, New England, poverty, hardship, family, wealth and friendship.
Trigger Warning: Topics of Assault and Sexual Abuse