speed-reading my first novel in a long, long time: a brief semi-review of ‘it ends with us’

One of my favorite pages on Facebook is, hands down, Girl Gone International. But it’s more than a page: it’s a community of women from all over the world who exchange tips and suggestions with each other.

This community is divided into 50+ groups based on location. Rome has one (though I never joined it). Amsterdam has one. And Toronto has one too.

The “Toronto division” also has a separate book club group, where the community picks books to read and then discusses about them together. On Friday, August 12th, I came across their “Book discussion + Picnic” event scheduled for August 18th, when they would talk about the New York Times bestseller It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. For some reason, I decided I would read 54 pages per day to finish it on time. But of course, I couldn’t keep it up (also because I started my new job just last Monday), so I still have a little over 100 pages to complete. But it’s okay. After all, it’s the first book I’ve read consistently in quite a while, so I can’t complain.

I just wanted to share my thoughts on it briefly. Here’s your warning to not read forward if you don’t want me to spoil it for you.

The first half of the novel is amazing and filled with episodes that will make you hold your breath. We follow a 23-year-old young woman named Lily–originally from Maine but now living in Boston–who meets an aspiring neurosurgeon and current hospital resident named Ryle, who incorporates all of the characteristics of a f-boy but–unlike any other f-boy–he’s smart and ambitious.

After their first interaction, Ryle disappears and the two meet again after 6 months when Lily opens a flower shop–we don’t know whose money she’s able to open it with–and hires a girl who (surprise surprise) happens to be Ryle’s sister. She happens to be married to a millionaire who enjoys drinking beer while wearing a onesie (read the book to find out why).

Like any modern heroine, Lily is still battling ghosts from her past: ghosts in the form of an abusive father and a homeless boy whom she helped when he was at his lowest. (Spoiler alert: just like a gun appearing in the first act shall return in the final one, these people will make a comeback throughout the novel.)

As the novel progresses, however, the relationship between Lily and Ryle becomes very clichéd and almost unrealistic: just to give an example, in one of the last chapters I read, Ryle–now her husband–buys her a huge apartment. Literally out of nowhere. When Lily asks the legitimate question of how he managed to pay for it, Ryle answers, “you’re married to a neurosurgeon, Lily, you’re not really running out of money,” or something like that. Like, is that even an answer? I understand being realistic is not every novelist’s goal, but I believe you should hold yourself to certain standards, especially when your story is spiraling into a cliched vortex and you’re struggling to maintain your reader’s attention high.

I still want to give the author the benefit of the doubt until I get to the end.

Did any of you read It Ends With Us? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!


Cover photo credits: Alice and Her Bookshelf

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