It Ends with Us: the good, the bad, and the problematic


Sophia Elizondo-Bean (she/her), Staff Writer

TW: abuse, domestic violence, and rape.


It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover was first published in 2016, but recently its relevance has grown exponentially on booktok, the Tik Tok community for readers. The story follows a woman named Lily Blossom Bloom as she escapes domestic violence and features flashbacks of her childhood in an abusive household. While the main character’s name is objectively ridiculous, the topics of domestic and sexual violence need to be taken seriously. The purpose of the book was to reflect the relationship of Hoover’s own parents and encourage readers to break cycles of abuse. However, numerous harmful messages are still absorbed from what could’ve been an inspiring novel. 

From coloring books to invalidating quotes, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding It Ends With Us. Readers have accused the author of humanizing abusers and excusing their behavior. But there are a few beneficial aspects of the book. For example, it paints an accurate picture of the types of relationships between abusers and survivors. The media often portrays perpetrators of sexual assault as a stranger to the survivor, but according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by a person that the survivor knows. In this case, Lily was married to her abuser, Ryle. To say they knew each other would be an understatement. 

By reading this novel, many will reflect on the strength of sexual violence survivors. They will work to support others instead of looking down with judgment. It’s not a question of “why don’t  they just leave?” but “how do I help them?”

Lily first becomes close with Ryle when they reunite after meeting on a rooftop. He is the brother of Lily’s coworker and best friend which shows he was present in her life very regularly. After months of inviting himself to Lily’s home and claiming that he didn’t want a relationship, Ryle changed his mind. That night he decided to join Lily for a dinner with her mother uninvited. This is just the beginning of his unwillingness to respect her and ask for consent. 

Throughout the book, Ryle repeatedly breaks her boundaries, eventually escalating into violence. He pushes Lily down the stairs and tries to convince her that she fell. Months later, Lily comes home to find Ryle drunk, hiding in the dark, and he rapes her. 

These scenes paired with quotes such as “There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things,” are extremely problematic because they send a message to readers that assailants can still be good people. This also causes survivors to blame themselves, or excuse violent behavior because they don’t “want to believe the worst in people.” 

Lily focused on Ryle’s more admirable personality traits in the early stages of their relationship; like his passion and drive. However, Ryle’s manipulative tendencies were prevalent from page one. The first time he pushed Lily his words already resembled those of her abusive father. This is not to place blame on Lily for feeling trapped in an abusive relationship, but to point out that his physical reactions weren’t the only instances in which he showed his true character. 

After hurting her the first time, Ryle did not seek therapy or leave her so she could be safe. He continued to abuse and manipulate the woman that he claimed to love. After the rape, Lily discovers she is pregnant with Ryle’s child and takes a long hard road to remove him from her life. She does not let him go near the baby because of how dangerous he has proven to be. He begs her incessantly throughout the last months of her pregnancy but Lily does what is right for the safety of her child. She didn’t want her daughter to grow up in an abusive home as she did. 

Ryle is not a good person. He is a rapist, abuser, and manipulator that used his childhood trauma to excuse unacceptable behavior. But that’s not how he’s portrayed in the novel. Readers felt sympathy for a man that belongs in prison. It Ends with Us is dangerous since it can distort perspectives to the point of no return. Not to mention the author’s attempt at a money grab from such a harmful novel. 

In January of 2023, Hoover announced that she planned to release an It Ends with Us coloring book. Thousands questioned why readers would want to color the stairs that Ryle pushed her down. Turning a novel about domestic violence and rape into a childish coloring book came off as out of touch and insensitive. Hoover canceled the book after it received negative feedback and thanked readers for holding her accountable. 

Ultimately, there are a few things readers can gain from this book, such as more empathy for survivors but the negatives far outweigh the positives when it comes to messages absorbed from the novel. 

Instead of reading a book that glorifies abuse and benefits an author that is dangerously out of touch, look for alternative media with similar topics. For example, the Netflix series Maid or Sex Education have a more accurate portrayal of sexual violence survivors. While good and bad may not be black and white, rape and assault should never sit in someone’s morally grey area.


Works Cited

RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)

CNN (Cable News Network)