Just Keep Swimming

It Ends with UsIt Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not growing up in a household with a great example of how a man should treat someone he loves, so I’ve always held on to an unhealthy amount of distrust when it comes to relationships and other people. —Lily

Whew. I very nearly cried back there. My chest is heavy with a plethora of emotions, but I will do my best to be as rational as possible. Oh, before anything else, I’d like to warn you that this review will inevitably contain spoilers. Hence, I send everyone my preemptive apologies.

Okay. I’m ready. Let’s start. Can somebody give me a hug right now? I’d ask my brothers to do so, but they ain’t clingy like me. Hahaha. This was my first encounter with Colleen Hoover, and I never expected this book to affect me this way. I’m seriously perusing through all of my beliefs on marriage and relationships right now.

Being raised in a tight-knit, Christian home, I humbly admit that before I read this book, I felt detached towards the issue of abusive relationships. My parents do have their fair share of misunderstandings, but neither of them resort to violence when their sparks of anger become actual flames of emotional turmoil. Now that they’ve been married for 30 years, it’s still obvious that they’re passionately in love with each other. Yeah, I’m being corny. But the point is that my upbringing made it hard for me to fathom or comprehend the reality of domestic violence. For the longest time, I was aware of its relevance in society, but I didn’t really bother to reflect upon its various causes and effects. (Please don’t misunderstand me. I am glad that my parents love each other so unconditionally.)

After enjoying Lily’s happy ending with Atlas, I cannot help but scrutinize her previous relationship with Ryle. What went wrong? Who is at fault? Is Lily completely innocent? Is Ryle really a hopeless case? These are only some of the questions waltzing in my brain right now.

Some of you might wonder whose side am I on: Lily (the abused), or Ryle (the abuser)? As Colleen Hoover said in her afterword, everything isn’t simply black or white in regards to domestic violence. The first time Ryle hit Lily, I was furious with him, and I wanted Lily to empower herself and turn him over to the police. But when he told Lily about his traumatic experience, I started to feel sorry for him. After all, since his outbursts were not “intentional,” it was possible that he would be “healed” someday. The sincerity and regret he showed Lily also moved my heart. I did not tolerate his actions, but there was a part of me that hoped for his redemption.

Lily is the victim here, indeed. No woman deserves to be a man’s punching bag, or sex toy, for that matter. Still, there were times that I backed up her moments of self-loathing. After witnessing her parents’ abusive relationship, one would think that she would/could have avoided one herself. Furthermore, I seriously did not get why she pursued a relationship with Ryle in the first place. She described him as compassionate, smart, and driven, but were those qualities really enough to warrant a lifelong commitment? When I come to think of it, it’s possible that what was between Lily and Ryle wasn’t love. It was lust. I ardently believe that there is a fine line between the two. With that in mind, despite my personal beliefs, I wasn’t so bothered when they got divorced. After all, their relationship was not a marriage, in the truest sense of the word.

After considering the standpoints of both Lily and Ryle, I can say that neither of them is blameless. I hate Ryle for hurting Lily. I believe that women are fountains of color and life, and men have no right to assert their “supremacy” over them through acts of violence. If anything, men who do such things are pathetic cowards. Nevertheless, I am not exactly fond of Lily, who was attracted to such a foul-mouthed and lecherous man. She could have avoided a lot of pain if she only ignored her libido and heeded the warnings in her own mind.

Overall, It Ends with Us is a very thought-provoking novel. I really enjoyed it because it gave me hours of delightful introspection. It made me reflect upon the importance of genuine and meaningful relationships. It enlightened me to the consequences of rushing into commitments that we aren’t sure we can keep. Most importantly, it made me realize that domestic violence doesn’t only affect its victims, but also those who witness it. Thank you, Lily, for ending the cycle.