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Why It Ends With Us is More Than Just a Book

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

[CONTENT WARNING: Spoilers and mentions of abuse]

Colleen Hoover caught the attention of many young adult novel lovers within the last few years with several of her best-selling books. Only recently did I have a chance to read one of her fan-favourites, It Ends With Us.

I was captivated by Lily and Ryle’s story, and it felt like one of those cliché he-doesn’t-want-anyone-except-for-me tropes that I absolutely adore. It was so easy to fall in love with them and their story.

Their relationship felt so perfect—so, naturally, it came out of absolutely nowhere when Ryle hit Lily for the first time. I had to reread the scene a handful of times to make sure I was reading it correctly. I was asking myself, “why was this written into their story?” and “why was this added if it doesn’t make sense to the plot?” Their relationship seemed so healthy.

It was hard to read about Lily experiencing abuse from someone I thought was perfect for her—someone she thought was perfect for her. Someone who wanted to be perfect for her. It was hard because I had to change the way I thought about abuse.

It Ends With Us was an enlightening and eye-opening story of domestic violence. I am fortunate to have never experienced domestic violence, so my knowledge of the topic was limited when I first read the book.

It was heartbreaking to see a character seemingly so perfect—a handsome, kind, and charming neurosurgeon—have these moments of pure evil. As a reader it made no sense; I didn’t want it to make sense. I was angry that the author would spin an evil arc on such an amazing character.

My head was spinning as soon as Lily found out she was pregnant. My instant reaction was: why was this added to the plot? Why was an impossible situation made even harder? How could she leave an abuser now that she was pregnant?

I realized that it was on purpose. It was an impossible situation, and that’s what made it so real. It can feel impossible to leave an abuser because there are so many roadblocks keeping you back. I was finding so much stress in reading about a fictional character’s hardships, and I couldn’t even begin to fathom the pain and strength possessed by the real people who have to live it.

The reality of Lily’s story settled with me when I realized people live this reality every day. Abuse and violence don’t always come from horrible partners—sometimes they come from the people who are perfect for us 99% of the time. They come from the people who care for us. They come from the people who love us. They come from the people whose public image is nothing but pure and innocent. They come from people who don’t want to hurt us, but the damage is irreversible and sometimes inevitable.

It makes you have to ask yourself, is this single rare moment of hurt worth ending a relationship that is great 99% of the time? Is it worth complicating a relationship when it is perfect 99% of the time? The answer is yes. Anyone deserves safety, love, and security 100% of the time, and leaving is a hard decision for anyone to come to. That’s what makes it so hard for victims to leave their abusers. That’s why people who are able to leave abusive relationships deserve a million standing ovations.

My takeaway

I am grateful to Colleen for having shared this story. I am grateful that millions of people know what abuse can look like, because of how many people she was able to reach with her story. I am grateful for this awareness and knowledge I did not know I needed.

The reality of abuse is not an easy one to understand, but Colleen made it easy through a heart-wrenching love story. If you have not read It Ends With Us yet, please do. Hopefully, you’ll be just as moved by Lily and Ryle as I was.

Olivia Onesi

U Ottawa '24

Olivia enjoys binge reading her favourite young adult novels and going for evening runs. She is a fourth year psychology student at the University of Ottawa and can be found scrolling endlessly on TikTok.