Review: It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover it seems, is the master of writing her own fan fiction. Years after It Ends With Us was published, and a good two years after the book had a surprising resurgence on TikTok and went straight back on the bestseller lists, a sequel to the book the author always said was a stand alone is here.

And it feels completely unnecessary.

Told from the duel perspectives of Lily and Atlas, it tells the story of what happened to the pair after Lily left her abusive husband Ryle. The book also delves into the past of Atlas. Their lives are, unsurprisingly, melodramatic, full of heavily emotional situations, surprise twists, one dimensional characters and the occasional moment of hot and steamy sex. We learn of Atlas' past, growing up with a distant mother who occasionally became abusive and who chose her abusive husband over her son. What the reader never learns is the reason WHY Sutton behaves the way she does, which seems slightly ridiculous considering that breaking the cycle of domestic violence is the core theme of It Ends With Us. (And before someone questions me in the comments, no, it is not the job of victims to fix and support perpetrators. It is, however, the job of wider society to understand how it happens so we can create adequate support and structures to help everybody break that cycle.) 

Oh, and no one has a twelve year old as their therapist or would tell a child their relationship woes.

Meanwhile, Ryle cannot get over Lily and doesn't seem to understand that his relationship is over. There are a number of situations where the pair meet that seem very convenient and contrived. Ryle isn't exactly kind, working on his anger issues or taking responsibility for his past and present bad behaviour. In these scenes, the author focuses heavily on the psychological impact this has on Lily--because lets face it, the situation isn't exactly nice or pleasant. 

The novel itself is a very quick and easy read. I was surprised to find a couple of grammatical errors in there. That said, there was just enough in there to keep me turning pages to find out what was going to happen, and how Lily and Atlas were going to resolve their heartbreaking personal problems.

It Starts With Us isn't a great or essential read, but I have no doubt that it will shoot to the top of the bestseller lists due to Hoover's legions of fans and her remarkable knack for marketing.


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