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From an End to a Start

Posted 12/07/2022 by Jesse Smith

Cover of Colleen’s new book, It Starts With Us. photo courtesy of

Fans are raving about Colleen Hoover’s new book It Starts with Us

Colleen Hoover is one of the most praised authors of the past few years. She has published 34 books in the past seven years, which have sold over 20 million copies combined. Readers can find her books at the front of every Barnes and Noble, including her newest book It Starts With Us. The sequel to her most popular best-selling book, It Ends With Us, has remained a favorite of fans for years since its release and has been raved about on all social media platforms. Fans applauded Hoover for her ability to write such emotional books and were counting the days until the sequel was released. 

Hoover is a very well-known and accomplished author. She was the #1 New York Times best-selling author for 23 of her books, her most popular ones being Ugly Love, Verity, November 9th, and of course, It Ends With Us. The book, published in 2016, is a contemporary romance novel that is number one on the New York Times Best Seller list and has sold over four million copies. It follows the main character, Lily Bloom, a 23-year-old college graduate who recently moved to Boston. The book begins after Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. Following the funeral, she sits atop a random apartment building in Boston, where she meets Ryle Kincaid, a doctor, and resident of the building. After talking for a while, they parted ways, even though they had an apparent connection. They did not meet again until six months later when Lily opened her first flower shop. This book focuses on Lily and Ryle’s growing relationship, and also switches between the current time and flashbacks from when she was 15 years old. In the present, we see her relationship with Ryle continue to grow, but in her past, we learn the story of her first love, whom she never forgot. 

Although Lily loves Ryle, we still read about her first relationship with Atlas Corrigan, a homeless student she takes care of. Lily and Atlas were separated when he joined the army and left town. Years later, when Lily has moved on to Ryle, Atlas reappears in her life. From here, the story becomes complicated. Ryle is intimidated by Atlas, and their relationship becomes abusive. The book follows the emotions in Lily’s past and present and is a heartbreaking story of a girl who deals with abusive relationships. 

I think It Ends With Us is a notable story; I found the switch from the past and present, and the different stories in between, make it more interesting. And what sets it apart from other romance books is the theme of abuse Hoover incorporates into the story. It creates more depth and meaning in the book that most romance novels do not have. 

Six years after It Ends With Us, Hoover finally announced the much-awaited sequel It Starts With Us in February of 2022, and from that moment, fans were antsy for the release. It Starts With Us is the continuation of the love story from Lily’s childhood. Starting from the very end of It Ends With Us, Lily is a new mother and has separated from Ryle. The sequel continues her story and focuses on reviving her relationship with Atlas. Fans had high expectations as many craved more of Atlas from the first book. 

However, their relationship is not as simple as many fans hoped. At the very end of It Ends With Us, Lily gives birth to her and Ryle’s baby, and she divorces him shortly afterward. It leaves off when a year later she runs into Atlas on the street, where she announces her separation from Ryle and that she is ready to restart their relationship. It Starts With Us is the story of her new relationship and the roadblock of Ryle, who stands in the way of Lily and Atlas’ growing connection. Ryle refuses to move on from Lily, and she fears that he will rage when he hears the news of her new relationship and that he may even go as far as to take their daughter away from her. 

After hearing the announcement of the sequel in 2022, I was excited about the release of the book and had very high expectations. It was apparent that Ryle would be a big issue in Lily’s life, even after they separated, and I was expecting another emotional and heartfelt book like the first. However, after reading the sequel, I am disappointed by it. While I enjoyed the endearing relationship between Atlas and Lily, I was expecting a more dramatic climax. When Ryle found out about Lily’s relationship, he was enraged by the news, but it wasn’t as big of an issue as I thought it would be. The book had no major conflict that actually affected or drove Lily and Atlas apart, and with the nature of her old relationship, I thought that would be a major part of the book. 

To follow up a book like It Ends With Us, which had so much conflict and depth, one would expect the sequel to be just as meaningful, but it lacked what the first book had. I found this book to be much less emotional and satisfying than the first book, and even Hoover’s other books. The relationship formed too easily compared to the complexity of the situation. The book was just a simple love story. If readers were expecting that, they were most likely content with it. I was expecting more as it follows such an admirable book.  

This book could have been shortened and made a novella (a short novel) instead of a 300-page novel with no major conflicts. Moreover, I also found some points too cringe-worthy for my liking. Yes, it is a romance story, but corny lines can be easily avoided. Nonetheless, I would give the book three out of five stars. Colleen Hoover is a talented writer, and while the book was missing a lot, the writing was well done. It was simple, but I think the relationship between Lily and Atlas was still very lovable. Hoover also brought in new characters that were humorous, which brought more comedy that was missing in the first book. I don’t think less of Hoover because of this book, but I wished for more based on her previous writing.