It Ends With Us

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Naked truth? I read this book entirely on the toilet. A page or two at a time. Not because it was a crap book; I really liked this book. I liked it so much I often thought about calling in sick to work so I could stay home and read. Simply because I was on the waiting list for the eBook and audio book at the library. When I'm reading in bed before I go to sleep, I only read eBooks. And since I never got off of the waiting list, I only had the paperback I borrowed from a friend. Since I always keep a real book by the toilet, this became the book.

I've read that this book was written a few years ago but is experiencing a resurgence in popularity due to TikTok. I also read that a prequel is coming out in October 2022 titled "It Starts With Us" that will tell us more about Lily's first love, Atlas. In "It Ends With Us", the book opens with Lily, at age 23, having been in Boston for two years.

I think the book can be summed up by a paragraph on page 192, "All humans make mistakes. What determines a person's character aren't the mistakes we make. It's how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses." Hoover does a fantastic job handling sensitive subjects with compassion and understanding but not excuses. I also appreciate that at the end she provides resources for domestic abuse and homelessness.

In the beginning, I was noticing a lot of fun phrases, for example, "..., the door was just shoved open so hard, I expect the stairwell to spit a human out..." (Ch. 1, Pg. 4) By the end of the book, I wasn't noticing them. I don't know if I got used to the writing style or if the author got tired.

On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 being a lot of examples/instances):

Sex: 4

Religion: 1

Gruesome: 2

Suspense: 4

Morality: 3

Traditional: 2

Sex - When asked for the most recent thought he wouldn't say out loud, a guy says, "I want to f*** you". (Ch. 1, Pg. 20) There are quite a few scenes in this book. Some of them include: minor details (Pg. 122-123), oral by imagination (like when the door closes on "The Bachelor") (Pg. 170), on a couch (Pg. 174-175), in the kitchen (Pg. 182) Page 261. Several others. It's not unrealistic, but it's more details than I'm used to reading in our normal book club picks.

Religion - Lord's name in vain. (Ch. 1, Pg. 24)

Gruesome - Page 1 begins with a soliloquy on suicide. It could be somewhat upsetting, especially if you are a survivor (of someone else's suicide). Ryle talks about children dying from an accidental shooting. (Ch. 1, Pg. 18) Spousal abuse (Pg. 153-156)

Suspense - I spent many pages wondering how it was all going to work out.

Morality - everyone seems to want to do the right thing.

Traditional - a guy lights a joint (Ch. 1, Pg. 7) Lily talks about her dad abusing her mom. (Ch. 1, Pg. 17) A guy begs for sex and a girl gives in (this should be worse than the old controversy about Edward / Bella) (Ch. 5) Continued references to an abusive husband and his impact on his daughter.

Around page 186 - 188, I was ready to quit. The bubble had burst. Given her history, I didn't agree with the way Lily acted. But I think that's the point - people think they'll react differently until it happens to them. I've never been one to peek at the ending, but I thought about it a couple of times, just to appease my frustration.

There are so many great gems in this novel, like the advice from Lily's mom, Jenny, "If Ryle truly loves you, he wouldn't allow you to take him back. He would make the decision to leave you himself so that he knows for a fact he can never hurt you again. That's the kind of love a woman deserves, Lily." (Pg. 336)

Discussion Questions

Lily used to garden (Ch. 1, Pg. 6), but now goes to a roof for a quiet escape. (Ch. 1, Pg. 4) Where do you go or what do you do?

Did you catch the irony of Lily Bloom's name before her discussion with Ryle? (Ch. 1, Pg. 14) What fun names have you encountered?

Share a naked truth.

Did you keep a diary? How did you format it? Did you ever re-read them? Do you still have them? (Ch. 2)

At the beginning of chapter 15, Ryle lies to his sister about the kitchen incident and Lily understands. Do you agree that the lie was justified?

Consider the title. Do you agree that the "It" refers to abuse? Who did you expect the "Us" to be? Did your expectation (or hope) change throughout the novel?

We read a lot of details about the sex between Lily and Ryle. Why did we not get details of her first time with Atlas? (Pg. 214)

Who have been some of your life's biggest waves that left deep imprints on the sand? (last paragraph Pg. 214)

Did you suspect the magnet was a gift from Atlas? (Pg. 215) What about the tattoo? (Pg. 217)

The first two times Ryle pushed Lily, was it abuse or reflexive? Is pushing someone away from you when you are mad at them different from slapping a woman because dinner is late?

Did you connect Ryle's first burst of anger on the rooftop and his "reason" for being angry to other family history that was revealed? (Pg. 240)

What object have you held on to too long like Lily kept the magnet? (ref. Pg. 282) If it was only the journals, would Ryle still have been upset or did it start with the newspaper which led him to the magnet and, without the magnet, would he have even gone looking for the journals?

Why did Chapters 25 and 35 start with two identical lines? How did it affect the story?

Why do people tend to think How could she stay / go back instead of How could he hit her? (Pgs. 274 & 283)

After Lily ran to Atlas, did you think she could ever go back to Ryle?

Were you surprised that Lily's mom knew the truth about the eulogy? (Pg. 336)

Theme Ideas

Do a service project to help homeless or the Salvation Army like Lily wanted to give money to. (Ch. 8, Pg. 118)

Serve toast, Lily's favorite. (Ch. 25 & 35 beginning) Also serve orange juice, and crepes with strawberry and orange slices (Pg. 277) And/or serve scrambled eggs and bacon. (Ch. 35)