Sunday, August 21, 2016

“It Ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover – The Love Triangle of Broken Souls

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover - book cover
While it is true that virtually all of us have or will at some point experience some turbulence when it comes to romantic relationships, most can rejoice for never experiencing something more emotionally-taxing than an angry break-up. However, as you might expect, there are those for whom questions regarding relationships get infinitely more complex and nuanced, as is the case with all the characters involved in Colleen Hoover's It Ends with Us.

In this book we are first introduced to Lily, a woman who never exactly had it easy in life, but nevertheless managed to power on through, graduating from college and starting her own business. The only thing missing from her life is true love, and she believes she may have found it with the magnificent neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid. While the latter may certainly be an enticing catch, especially with his soft spot for Lily, he isn't exactly all he appears to be: as it turns out, Kincaid has an irrational aversion to relationships, and even dating in general. Even though he does start to break that last rule for Lily, she can't help but wonder what on Earth could have led him down such a lonely and secretive path. This new relationship she got into begins to overwhelm her, at which point her first love and protector suddenly returns, putting all Lily has worked for in jeopardy. And so, these three imperfect people find themselves entangled in a complex triangle that will test and teach them more than they could have ever expected.

While this novel may be labelled as a romance book, I would argue that it's more in the realms of dramatic fiction, focusing on the human aspects of the three characters' relations to each other, rather than the romantic dimensions. Hoover does a fantastic job at making each and every character multidimensional and complicated, perhaps even more so than some of the people you would meet in the real world. The characters can seldom, if ever be classified simply in terms of good or bad; they all fall somewhere on the grey spectrum, each one just seeking happiness for him or herself. As the story goes on, the characters evolve with it, and their development is quite interesting and at times inspiring to observe, offering us more and more perspectives on the various circumstances that arise in our lives.

As you may have expected, the story itself isn't exactly fast-paced, nor does it ever lean into action territory. Rather, this is a character study where the dialogues and inner monologues themselves make things progress. That is not to say things stay painfully static throughout; rather, Hoover has an excellent understanding of where to speed up and to slow down to create a pace that helps grab the reader's attention. It is true that there are a few twists and turns and surprising moments, but in the end they take a back seat to the profound reflections on life the author is hoping to share.

Speaking of these reflections, It Ends with Us has plenty of food for thought for those who are hungry. Many rather heavy themes are discussed here, such as the power of the past when it comes to shaping a person's future, how people become either loving or hateful of the world, what makes someone beyond salvation, and how much control we really have when deciding where our lives proceed. Hoover shares a lot of her personal wisdom, and it really shows that she often speaks from personal experience and has spent more time than most thinking on those subjects, making her input extremely valuable.

With all things taken into consideration, It Ends with Us is a very profound and thought-provoking novel that looks at the human condition as much as the complexities of romantic relationships. It's depth, slower pace and focus on character development make it stand out from most other novels out there; if those things don't bother you and you don't need your novel to have fast-paced action in it, then I guarantee you'll enjoy this book tremendously, and perhaps even keep coming back to it.

Colleen Hoover (December 11, 1979)

Colleen Hoover (December 11, 1979)

Personal site

Colleen Hoover is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author who has mostly written for New and Young Adults, with some of her more celebrated works being Slammed, This Girl and Hopeless.

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