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I Joined the BookTok Trend: Review of Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us

Trigger Warning: Domestic abuse. Also, spoilers ahead.

Over winter break, I kept seeing Colleen Hoover’s book, It Ends With Us, all over social media. Made viral by TikTok, she is now among a new wave of young authors who have been catapulted into prominence by the power of social media — “Booktok” authors, they are called.

I was skeptical of all the ads I saw about this book, dismissing it as another cheesy young adult novel with a catchy title and cool cover art that would only be a subpar read at best. I’ve hopped on the viral book bandwagon before and have only been disappointed (some of these disappointments include The Sun is Also a Star, If I Stay, Everything, Everything, I could go on). But after some research, I was shocked to see that It Ends With Us earned a 4.4 out of 5 on Goodreads, and all the reviews seemed genuinely moved and affected by this book. The review that eventually led me to start it was one TikTok user’s comment: “This book made me fall in love with reading again.”  I’ve been wanting to get back into reading for fun, so I read it.

To my pleasant surprise, this book isn’t your typical corny young adult novel. As a college student, I think I’m the perfect demographic for this book. The romance was more fast-paced, the dialogue slightly wittier, the experiences more realistic and raw. I was also surprised by the content matter. From reading the synopsis, I was certain this book was going to be a love triangle romance novel, but it took a dark and sudden turn. I appreciate the fact that I never saw the abuse coming, because it put me in Lily’s shoes of being so in love with someone, only to see a side of them that you can never expect and never forgive. This was the first book I’ve read that covered the topic of abusive relationships in a way that was somehow relatable and easy to digest. Hoover’s own mother was a victim of domestic abuse, so she’s had a very real and cruel encounter with abuse from an early age, much like the character Lily.

There were also a few aspects of the book that I found to be slightly undeserving of its high praise. For one, although it was a fluid and engaging read, I don’t think it’s a book that would make you a better writer. The writing wasn’t that impressive; it seemed like it was written by a particularly talented high school writer, or perhaps an above-average college writer.

For a book that covers such a dark topic as domestic abuse, I thought some aspects of Lily’s life were on the verge of being romanticized, or perhaps too good to be true. She had such a devoted support system around her, in that there was another boy in her life that was always so quick to run to her rescue (who also has the perfect personality, dashing looks, and cooks restaurant-quality meals for her, of course). Continuing, her abusive father conveniently passed away and is no longer part of her life, and her mom and best friend were always there to provide endless love and support. Of course, I would still never want to trade places with Lily, given all the abuse she’s both seen and endured, but the cruel reality is that a lot of domestic abuse victims have nowhere to run to. It’s not always just a dark place that you can easily escape from, as Lily did. The happily ever after, running into the sunset with a new-and-better-boy ending seemed a bit too romanticized and tropey.

Despite its flaws, I think this book is still worth reading. It exposed me to a side of relationships that we often can never imagine. Before reading, I had a lot of questions related to abusive relationships, particularly why victims have such a hard time leaving their abusers. I came out of this book with a slightly better understanding of this rarely discussed subject matter.

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Carol Liu

U Mass Amherst '23

Carol is a junior at UMass Amherst majoring in Operations & Information Management. When she's not writing, you can find Carol watching documentaries, oil painting, playing flute, spending time outdoors, or organizing events with Smart Woman Securities and the UMass Taiwanese and Chinese Students' Association.
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