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Is It Ends with Us Based on a True Story?

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that by the time I read It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover, it had been on the New York Times bestseller list for 61 weeks so far.

Having read a ton of her books in the past (including Layla, Reminders of Him, It Starts with Us, and Maybe Someday just to name a few), I knew just what the rest of the reading world was likely so excited about.

As with most of Hoover’s books, as much as you recognize her writing style, the actual stories vary so widely that she manages to really keep you guessing about the real plot until a good way into the book.

It Ends with Us is no different. 

It Ends With Us: A Review

It Ends with Us Book Cover

It Ends with Us

I’m going to do my best to keep this portion of the review without spoilers (though I make no promises when answering “Is It Ends With Us based on a true story?” below).

The novel is expertly crafted in telling the story of the main character Lily Bloom, a 23-year-old spirited young woman living in Boston.

She meets Ryle Kincaid, a 30-year-old gorgeous neurosurgeon one night when hanging out on a rooftop of a random building. The chance encounter sticks in both their minds.

They reconnect quickly when they meet again months later when she is opening her own business (a flowers shop- with a name like Lilly Bloom, it was always fated).

Their reconnection is swift, all-consuming, and a little scary in its intensity.

But that’s young love, right?

Parallel to this story is the one Lily tells via diary entries of her first love Atlas, a young homeless boy she met in high school who she helped out.

Girl writing in her her diary
Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Her abusive father often came after her mother, and Atlas returned that helped her on more than one occasion (and in a lot of different ways). 

These two love stories go through some massive arcs as Hoover winds them around and through each other, making you fall in love with all the characters in a way that invests you fully in their lives.

As in life, their circumstances and choices sometimes leave them without any pain-free options, and it stings.

A lot.

Preventing your heart from forgiving someone you love is actually a hell of a lot harder than simply forgiving them.

– Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

Without giving too much away, I will say that Lily has to reckon with the choices her mother made about Lily’s abusive father when she was faced with similar circumstances.

As sad as the situations described sometimes are, they are told with Hoover’s trademark candor (or to use a term coined in the book, by telling naked truths).

Despite the heart-wrenching story, to me, the book is a hopeful one of breaking cycles, finding your true love story, and recognizing that just because things look different than you planned, it doesn’t mean they can’t be wonderful. 

Overall this is an emotional read of a romance novel with a strong message. If you’re a fan of Colleen Hoover’s novels, or if you are even just a fan of sadder love stories, It Ends With Us won’t disappoint. 

Once you’ve finished the book, make sure you check out these It Ends With Us book club questions to discuss the novel with your reading group!


(Spoiler Alert! Plot Giveaways Ahead)

Is It Ends With Us based on a true story?

Sadly, yes. In a very touching author’s note at the end of the book, Colleen Hoover describes how her own experience with domestic violence shaped the story.

It Ends with Us is really the story of her own mother, and how her choice to leave Hoover’s abusive father when she was three protected her relationship with him. Hoover pays homage to her mother by having Lily mirror her path in the book.

Mother and daughter from It Ends with Us
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

If this sounds simplistic and possibly wrong, I urge you to read the book first.

One of the main messages of the book is how easy is it to judge situations as simple when all you know are the surface facts. This is something Hoover also explains in her essay.

This is one story in (unfortunately) a sea of similar stories of troubled relationships, and she is not trying to tell anyone else’s story but her mother’s.

As painful as it was for her to continue writing a book that peeled back so many complicated feelings, she felt she owed it to her mother and Lily to not simply rewrite the story in the way she wished it could go.

The story is undoubtedly more powerful for it. 

“And as hard as this choice is, we break the pattern before the patterns breaks us.”

– Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us

Curious about what happens next? Check out my review of It Start with Us, the sequel to this book!

Looking to make reading a more regular thing? Why not start a book club! Check out my article on How to Form a Book Club for tips on creating the ideal club for your lifestyle.

Did you read It Ends with Us? What did you think? Leave a comment below about what you loved (or maybe didn’t love) about the book!