“It Ends With Us” and “It Starts With Us” are two books by Colleen Hoover that have gained a lot of attention lately. The first book is actually “It Ends With Us,” so you need to read that one first. “It Starts With Us” is the sequel and I’m not sure you’ll really be able to follow the characters or get as much out of the book if you didn’t read the first one. They are definitely meant to be read as a set. I started reading these books without much of an idea of what they were about. Actually, I thought they were a love story, but they showed up on so many Best of 2022 lists that I didn’t really care about the storyline, I just wanted to read the books. I soon discovered the major storyline of both books revolves around domestic abuse and breaking the cycle of abuse. The main character, Lily, marries what she feels like is the perfect man for her, Ryle. However, Ryle has a hidden temper that doesn’t surface until after the marriage. Lily’s mother was abused by her father, and so years later when Ryle begins to abuse her, Lily sees the similarities right away. Still, while she recognizes the cycle, is she strong enough to break it? That’s the central question of the first book, “It Ends With Us.” The second book, “It Starts With Us,” focuses on what happens to Lily afterward. I won’t give too many spoilers, but I liked both books. Lily is a strong, modern woman, not stuck in an age when women didn’t have any option but to stay with an abusive man. Still, she struggles to leave. Looking at it from the outside, some people may not see why she’d stay with Ryle. She has friends, she has a successful business, she has resources and options, but the author does a good job of taking the readers inside Lily’s struggle and getting them to see these situations are not always black-and-white. After reading both books, I can see why they are on the Best of 2022 lists. I wouldn’t recommend the books without explaining the story centers around domestic abuse (trigger warning!), but if you’re OK with that subject, these books are a great read.
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