Book recs: ‘It Ends with Us’ explores intricacies of toxic relationships

The second installment of this romance series provides an introspective look into toxic relationships.

Photo Courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

The second installment of this romance series provides an introspective look into toxic relationships.

Gianna Cocovinis, Staff Writer

It’s a good season to be a Colleen Hoover fan. Not only did we get “Reminders of Him” at the top of the year, but the second installment of the “It Ends with Us” duology just hit shelves a couple weeks ago and fans are going crazy over it. 

“It Ends with Us” follows the story of Lily Bloom as she settles into her new life after a much-needed move to Boston. With an abusive father tormenting the childhood home Lily grew up in, her life before this move was nothing short of complicated. However, now that she has a chance at a fresh start, Lily feels ready and hopeful for a future free of her daunting childhood trauma.  

It’s not too long after settling into her new life that Lily begins to get involved with a handsome, highly successful neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid. It seems everything in Lily’s life is shaping out too good to be true. Ryle is everything Lily wants in a partner: assertive, brilliant, sensitive and maybe just a healthy dose of arrogant. As a precaution, Ryle has a strict “no dating” rule that is both understandable and frustrating to Lily. They dance around each other for months until they can no longer deny their feelings. As things finally begin to take off with Ryle, Lily is completely taken off guard by the reappearance of an old friend in the Boston area, Atlas Corrigan. Atlas is her first love and yet another link to the past she was so determined to leave behind. As Atlas’ presence in her life becomes stronger and too difficult to ignore, Lily’s relationship with Ryle gets threatened but Ryle’s response changes everything between them. Lily is torn between the man that Ryle could be but is stuck in toxic, all-too-familiar behaviors, and the old love she still can’t help but feel for Atlas.  

This book starts as light and romantic but takes a deep, unexpected turn. It ends up not being a book about romance at all, but rather a story that speaks to the cycle of abusive relationships that only strong individuals have the courage to break. It was my first introduction to Colleen Hoover, but after reading this I would say her books pack more of a punch than I expected. I wasn’t at all anticipating seeing the complicated relationships or nuances that exist within these toxic situations. It’s easy to see these toxic situations from a distance, but it’s another experience to feel like you’re witnessing it alongside Lily, who has no idea what the right answer is or how to make a bad situation better again.  

There wasn’t originally going to be a second book, but after the resurgence of the title on TikTok, Colleen Hoover rewarded fans with another installment in what is now going to be a duology. If the first book was emotional, dramatic and intense, the second book is the happy ending these characters deserve. All I have to say is- “Just keep swimming.” Don’t worry, you’ll get it when you read it!