*Spoiler Alert! “It Ends With Us”
Bestselling author Colleen Hoover’s “It Ends With Us” was a global hit and made huge waves in the book community.
Lovers of the novel yearned for a sequel, and six years after its initial release in 2016, Hoover delivered with her new book, “It Starts With Us.” The first book in the duo regained popularity during the summer of 2021 and became a bestselling hit once again, introducing a new fan base of readers eager for a continuation of the story.
The long awaited sequel, “It Starts With Us,” released Oct. 18, featuring dual point of views from Lily, the beloved main character, and Atlas, a fan favorite whose point of view is now written for readers to enjoy for the first time.
At first I was a little disappointed and confused by the lack of plot twists or surprising events in the book until I realized that this sequel had a different goal: to provide a happy ending.
In her author’s note at the beginning of “It Starts With Us,” Hoover writes, “I wanted to deliver a much lighter experience. Lily and Atlas deserve it. I hope you enjoy their journey.”
I was thrilled when I first picked up the book to start reading to learn that the very first chapter starts with Atlas’ point of view.
“It Starts With Us” picks up right when the epilogue of “It Ends With Us” leaves off, with Atlas running into Lily on the street.
Hoover wastes no time, allowing Atlas and Lily to come together just as they’ve been hoping for since they were kids.
“I’m grateful for Atlas because I know he is the standard I now hold people to. He’s the standard I should have held Ryle to from the beginning,” Lily said.
In the first book, “It Ends With Us,” Hoover delivered a heartbreaking story of a very realistic domestic violence relationship between Lily and Ryle and the mental battle Lily went through to finally leave the abusive relationship.
The sequel additionally touches on the topic of domestic violence, and Lily struggles to find a balance of sharing custody of her daughter, Emerson, with her abusive ex-husband as she believes the court system will be no help to her situation with no proof of the abuse from her husband, a surgeon with a clean criminal record.
Lily struggles to remain strong in her separation and attempts to help her daughter have a relationship with her father in a manner that keeps Emerson safe.
“In our marriage, the few terrifying incidents were blanketed by so many good ones, but now that our marriage is over, the blanket has lifted and all I’m left with are the worst pieces of him,” Lily said.
Lily credits her ability to remain strong in her decisions post abuse to her support system, made up of close friends and family who stand beside her every step of the way.
In her efforts to illustrate a realistic domestic violence situation, Hoover addresses the issue that many abuse victims do not have this kind of support.
“How do people leave these cycles when they dont have the resources I had or the support from their friends and family? How do they possibly stay strong enough every second of the day? I feel like all it takes is one weak, and insecure moment in the presence of your ex to convince yourself you made the wrong decision,” Lily said.
In light of receiving the point of view from Atlas, Hoover dives into his life situation as his past familial issues arise and as family members he cut ties with, and even one he had no idea existed, re-enter his life.
Throughout the book, readers witness the progression of Lily and Atlas’s relationship as they face a variety of issues in their lives, though this time it’s heartwarming to see they get to go through everything together.
“And if we somehow had fun together at such a low point in both of our lives, it makes me wonder what we could be like at our highest,” Lily said, reflecting on her relationship with Atlas.
One of the aspects I loved about the first book, “It Ends With Us,” was the meaning of the title, used as the last line of the book. Lily says through tears holding her newborn daughter, “It stops right here with you and me. It ends with us,” after she asks her husband for a divorce.
Hoover addresses abusive cycles, and the meaning behind the title represents the end of the abusive cycle in Lily’s life that started with her mother, that continues with her, which she wanted to ensure ended with her daughter.
I was pleased to learn the deeper meaning of the title’s sequel. Although Atlas played a huge role in the start of Lily’s life, a new life starts with Atlas and Lily yet again in the sequel, as they create their own family.
I won’t spoil the new character who touches on how the title ties into the story, but discovering the context for its deeper meaning adds even more to the happy ending readers will fall in love with.
“We’ll be on our brand-new, tiny family tree–one that starts with us.”