- It is essential for literature to present diverse and empowering representations of women, helping readers to recognize and challenge abusive dynamics as soon as they appear.
Colleen Hoover, known for her immense popularity among young readers, delves into sensitive territory with her book “It Ends With Us.” While marketed as a love story, this novel reveals the dark underbelly of domestic abuse that lures the young and impressionable female audience into its hazy narrative. Based on a true story, Hoover writes from the perspective of creating awareness but her narrative does not foster healthy relationships or guide the female readers to steer clear of warning signals that come with random meetups and dating apparent strangers.
Hoover’s protagonist is a young girl-next-door Lily Bloom, a 23-year-old college graduate, who has relocated to Boston and is starting on a clean slate when she meets neurosurgeon Ryle Kincaid. She is immediately attracted to him because of his unusual name, attractive physique and that he looks “dishy” in scrubs. But Ryle is only interested in having sex and not keen on a romantic relationship, but somehow Hoover summons Cupid to make them fall in love. Bloom’s relationship with Kincaid takes a turn when Bloom comes face to face with Atlas Corrigan, her long-lost first love… I could not really sink my attention into the lives of the three characters but could sense that Lily was adept at making poor choices, like so many youngsters who select loving someone else over loving themselves first and foremost.
Hoover has a way of building characters that young readers easily identify with because their own world is teeming with transient boy-meets-girl romances that fizzle out sooner than ever and take horrendous turns because of social media.
I was upset that the young reader is being manipulated into feeling the pain of the protagonist when her boyfriend mistreats her. This characterization not only undermines the strength and resilience of women but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes among those who may have experienced similar situations.
It is essential for literature to present diverse and empowering representations of women, helping readers to recognize and challenge abusive dynamics as soon as they appear. By glossing over the intricacies of abuse and its emotional and psychological impact, the novel misses an opportunity to foster a dialogue about consent, boundaries, and the importance of standing up against abusive behavior and not letting it slide because domestic violence is more nuanced and complicated.
Things will not change until everyone calls a “spade a spade.” Literature has the power to shape perceptions and influence societal attitudes, making it crucial for authors to approach sensitive subjects with care and responsibility.
Hoover’s stance is that many events in the book were inspired by real happenings in her and her mother’s life. Lily Bloom ultimately chooses herself over her abuser ending a cycle of violence. But I was not okay with the fact that she kept giving him “one more chance.”
“It Ends With Us,” has a cult following on social media like Instagram and TikTok. I can see how these kinds of books that deal with a young woman experiencing physical attraction can be confused with romantic love and really appeal to young readers. Young heads bathe in hormones and are unable to differentiate between true love and infatuation bordering on codependency. They accept the lows that come with “being in love” to exhilarate the highs of dopamine release.
So, they are not clearly able to identify domestic and sexual abuse at the hand of their partner to maintain the status quo. I might have interpreted it the same way as the young adult readers but now when my hair is gray, I would not recommend a book like “It Ends With Us”, the same very same way as I would not recommend Harold Robbins, Mills and Boon romances, Barbara Cartland or the lovey-dovey Bollywood movies as they give a false sense of perspective.
Teenagers and young adults have fragile emotions and impressionable hearts. I know that so many things that were presented to us as “boys will be boys” were actually rooted in male aggression, misogyny and abuse. There is a definite need to reinforce the fact that domestic abuse is not acceptable.
Some of the other young adult books dealing with this issue are: “What Kind of Girl” by Alyssa B Sheinmei, “The Weight of Blood” by Tiffany D Jackson, “The Space Between Us” by Thrity Oomrigar (which I have read) and “We Can Be Heroes” by K. McCauley.
I have not read Hoover’s sequel “It Starts With Us” which is about rebuilding the relationship between the three main characters and healing from domestic abuse, so I cannot comment if it offers concrete solutions but I am sure that the movie based on “It Ends With Us” with Blake Lively and Baldoni in the lead will be a commercial success because of the popularity of the book. My only hope is that the larger platform does not perpetuate harmful stereotypes.
With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published hundreds of poems, movie reviews, book critiques, and essays and contributed to combined literary works. Her two books are My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.