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Blame the Perpetrators, Not the Victims

By: Harshini Dinesh(‘23) and Lipika Hebbar(‘24)

*Warning: Spoilers ahead! This article discusses It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover is a book that has recently risen to fame through BookTok. The book has been adored by many but still faces criticism from others. At first sight, Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us seems to be the average fast-paced romance novel with its target audience as young, romanticist girls who enjoy fantasizing about unrealistic men, but there is more to this novel than just romance.

The story does start with a romantic scene where a young woman and main character, Lily Bloom, sits on the terrace and talks with a handsome mystery man, Ryle. However, it gets dark quickly when they start talking about “Naked Truths.” These “Naked Truths'' appear throughout the novel where both characters tell each other their thoughts and feelings bluntly. Through these “Naked Truths,” the characters use hypotheticals to discuss dark topics such as murder, death, sexual abuse, and homelessness.

Many readers found this book to be impressive because it addressed the severity of issues, such as domestic violence. The book was able to successfully inform readers why victims of domestic violence refuse to leave their situation: Victims believe that their abusers still are inherently good and kind-hearted, and just have momentary bursts of anger, because there is an abuse cycle where abusers treat victims terribly and then profusely apologize and show their “love.” The abusers will show their “love” by doing the bare minimum like being kind, taking care of their partner, and giving gifts.

The main character, Lily, experiences an abusive relationship with Ryle. The climax of this story is when Lily decides to end their relationship and break the cycle of abuse, and this is where Hoover gets her title, It Ends With Us. There are many romance scenes in the novel, but unlike what critics say, the romance scenes contribute to the intensity of Lily and Ryle’s relationship, and it explains why it was so hard for Lily to leave Ryle and go back to Atlas, her first love.

Junior Siya Soni said, “Honestly, the entire time I was reading this book I just wanted Lily and Atlas to be together and wanted Ryle out of the plot as soon as he entered. I was so frustrated with Lily for staying, and I think the author did a great job of showing how Lily was manipulated during her relationship with Ryle. She also made readers love Ryle, so when his true colors were shown, I was shocked and upset. The entire time I was engaged because I needed to know what happened.”

SBHS librarian Mrs. Kate Hanusosky first heard about It Ends With Us from SBHS students who have been requesting this book from the library since September, and once she read it she said, “I loved it! I couldn’t put it down! I really love how the author brought up the complicated emotions and dynamics surrounding abuse in relationships and not just the brutality of it. I felt the story was written realistically and gave light to a serious issue in our society that affects so many people.”

Similar to Soni and Mrs. Hanusosky, there are many readers who enjoyed the book and became aware of why people stay in toxic relationships.

In her interview with Amazon Books where she discusses It Ends With Us, Hoover mentions these readers: “I received a lot of emails and comments from people that have never been in that situation but have judged people in that situation that after reading it, it’s changed their minds… They are like, you know what, I am going to be a little more sensitive to this topic now.” The response to Hoover’s novel emphasizes how authors like Hoover are spreading awareness about difficult and sensitive topics and subsequently improving society and the ability for people to discuss such issues.

Moreover, reading Hoover’s It Ends With Us has encouraged many victims of abuse to reach out to her, and in her interview, she mentions how her book “actually helped women make a choice that helped them save their lives and you know they'll message me about that and I'm so glad that I wrote that book and put it out there.” Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us is one of many books, including Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, which discusses abuse to help society change its mindset about abuse to stop blaming the victims and start prosecuting the perpetrators.

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