A 320-Page Work of Wonder

Lindsey Smith, Arts & Entertainment Editor

   In her newest book and latest edition to the It Starts/Ends With Us duology, Colleen Hoover takes a spin on full circle moments while incorporating a challenging, yet need-based storyline following domestic abuse. 

   With an utterly captivating cast of characters, it is difficult to not tear your eyes away from the page. It’s the definition of a page-turner, a plot twist that is the size of a real, full-sized twister. It Starts With Us is gripping readers everywhere, and there’s no doubt why. 

   Junior Sarah Schnell read the book and expressed the same sense of amazement I felt, stating: “The book was very suspenseful, and it was incredibly intriguing. It captivated my attention the entire time. The different perspectives and points of view provide different details and insights on different issues.” Although It Starts With Us didn’t focus solely on domestic abuse, and definitely didn’t address it as much as the prequel, it did still touch upon it in terms of the recovery period. Senior Gabriella Kinsey, while not having read the book yet, explained that the storyline sounds fun and inviting, “I recently started an obsession with the Colleen Hoover books! I’m literally so excited to start reading her book It Starts With Us. I love reading romance novels and I feel this book is going to include it all! I’ve also heard from others that this book contains suspense on her crazy love life, and they can’t even put the book down!” Indeed, the drama-packed novel will keep readers everywhere on the edges of their seats. 

      A 320-page dramatic piece of wonder, this book takes everything you may have known about happiness, sadness, grief, and pure and simple bad luck and twists it into the most strangely relatable while simultaneously unrelatable story. Following the first book in the duology, It Ends With Us, just as the title suggests, this book shows that every ending has a new beginning. To quote the line from 90s band Semisonic, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” If the song hadn’t been written over a decade before this book was released, it would have been questionable whether or not that line had been written for Colleen Hoover, because, if the shoe fits…

  The plot is simple at first glance, but is complex and has branches that intertwine with each other. However, the important stuff goes as follows: there are three main characters: Lily, Atlas, and Ryle. Both Atlas and Ryle have strong feelings for Lily, yet they express it in different ways. In this case, Ryle expressed his love by stepping away and Lily’s new chapter follows her journey with learning to trust and love again, thus the appearance of Atlas. Growing up in a childhood home all too familiar with abuse, noticing the signs of abuse, and walking away from it are more challenging than it seems, yet Lily was able to escape the tight hold of emotional and physical trauma and walk away hurt but alive—the main challenge, the ever so present and quite frankly disruptive opponent: her past life, Ryle. 

   In a heart wrenching novel about learning to take things slow and value trust and communication, Colleen Hoover details events similar to her own life in an attempt to give readers a glimpse into the different realities of an abusive household. The main, overwhelming message is every abusive relationship looks different. Apparent bruises are not the only sign, a fact Lily had to understand in the book, and manipulation and gaslighting can happen under a seemingly perfect outer layer. 

   In my own personal experience with reading this book, I was, at first, surprised at how much trouble I had coming to terms with Lily’s original actions and decisions in the beginning. Yet, just as I had noticed in the first book, her reasons are justified by carefully crafted underlayers that always seem to connect to some sort of chaos. 

   It is a young adult fictional book that resonates with a wide variety of people. It Starts With Us, dare I say it, needed to be written ages ago to fill that gaping hole that the end of It Ends With Us left in the majority of readers, yet, Hoover had her reasons. And on behalf of eager readers everywhere, I am appreciative that she came out with a sequel at all.