Updated: Sep 2, 2022
Somehow I never seem to read any of the books I've been recommended. But, this book, I'm happy I could. I had a gift pending from a writer's website and they happily sent me a copy of It Ends With Us.
It sat on my desk for more than 2 months while I tried to manage loads of other stuff. The year-end of 2018 was staring at me. I had to complete my Goodreads book challenge too. Finally, I picked up the book (my friend reminded me to start reading at least a million times before that). Guess deadlines are excellent motivators.
The beginning was slow for me probably because I got rusty from not reading for three months. But, once I got into the flow, I couldn't stop.
Though the initial pages read like a YA (I read the author is a YA writer), as the story progressed, the narrative style changed. The theme changed. The priorities changed. And that caught my attention. It told me exactly why this book was loved by some many readers.
Lily is a twenty-four-year-old woman who initially sounded like an eighteen-year-old. She meets Ryle, a handsome neurosurgeon venting his anger on chairs and smoking weed. Lily just back from her abusive (to her mother) father's funeral was emotionally drained and they have a game of Naked Truths (risky stuff when talking to a stranger) until he declares his lust for her (yeah, take that).
She is attracted but believes in what she believes about love and relationships (it sounds twisted, but she is looking for a HEA). Lily goes on to resign from her job and start her flower shop (I love how she uses steampunk here) when she meets Alyssa (Ryle's cute, kind, rich sister).
One thing I loved was how Alyssa was compassionate throughout the book. She knew her brother, she loved him, but she knew Lily wouldn't be able to live with him. The flashbacks via letters written to Ellen gave more depth to Lily. It was clear she loved Atlas (though she thought she didn't anymore). There were times I was frustrated with her. Not because she gave Ryle chances (we'll talk about it next), but because she denied her feelings for Atlas.
Each time she read the letters, I could see her love for the boy he was, for the man she hoped he'd be, and for the man he did become, despite him staying away from her.
The scenes between Ryle and Atlas in the restaurant (the second time when Lily goes with a bandaged face) were the beginning of the shift in the story. Though I wasn't sure how the story would progress with Lily deciding to forgive Ryle again and again, I wanted to see what would happen.
When she finally left him, I cheered for her. Calling Atlas was only expected. Poor man, throughout the book, took the pain, the pressure, the burden of the past, the present and what not. Yet, he was successful. He deserved so much more in life.
Though Lily is the narrator, for me, it is Atlas who is the main character. His love, patience, and understanding made me hope he would find a better partner; someone who put him first, someone who could really love him.
*Back to the story*
From here on, it was Lily's questions, doubts, insecurities, the realization which enhanced the story's worth. Her mother's acceptance of the truth, her advice to Lily were the turning points.
I could truly understand the thoughts of someone from an abusive relationship. Yes, it is easy to say they could walk away. But, this book made me understand it is NOT easy. When Lily thought she should go back to Ryle, each time I prayed she wouldn't. Being pregnant, alone, and clueless about the future was one of the worst things that can happen.
Maybe, she needed that stress to grow up, to rethink her life and decide what is best not just for her, but the child too. Alyssa proved her character when she declares she wouldn't forgive Lily if she accepted Ryle back.
Ryle- I know I haven't talked about him much. He was initially the dream-hero until he pushed Lily aside, hurting her. Then each time he took his anger out on her, I liked him less and less. When he almost tortured Lily after reading her letters (her personal stuff), I hated him. Sure, I understand his hurt, his possessiveness, but his actions were not acceptable.
His love was genuine, I never questioned it. But, he lack of understanding did not make him a hero. I might offend a few people by saying this but he was self-centered. Ryle never really thought why Lily continued to hold on to the things/letters from her past. He never tried to understand why Atlas was such an important part in her life.
Love without understanding means nothing. I was relieved when Lily chose to divorce him. The timing couldn't have been any more perfect. Yes, he was shattered by her decision. But, he also needed to face the truth. The examples Lily gave him to explain were like sharp-pointed arrows.
The epilogue wasn't as good as I hoped it would be. True, she chose Atlas (finally), but it could have been presented better. He already declared and confessed his love for her when he dropped her off at her place, him saying he was ready seemed redundant.
It was a decision Lily had to take. The one year gap was sensible to let things settle. I hoped she would come from her side and meet him; tell him she wanted and loved him.
In the end, the words "… fifteen seconds, five minutes…" told us exactly what happens in real life too. That's all it takes for the facades to slip, for the world to shatter, for a person to lose everything they hold dear.
P.S: My friend is crazy about the tattoo and everything about the book. I thank her for making sure I read this one. It'd have been my loss if I did not.
About the author: Srivalli Rekha is a blogger, writer, and amateur photographer. She got a degree in MBA and MA English Literature and chose to become a writer and a poet instead of a corporate professional.