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Colleen Hoover’s novel “It Ends with Us” romanticizes abuse

Rudi Chamria
The book “It Ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover recently went viral on social media platforms, particularly since 2021. The book arguably romanticized the abuse that the protagonist experienced while others viewed it to have accurately represented her experiences.

“Ryle’s voice is low and intimidating. ‘You’re mine, Lily. You belong to me.’” In Colleen Hoover’s novel “It Ends With Us,” the protagonist, Lily Bloom, grapples with the challenging and traumatic experience of abuse from her romantic partner, Ryle Kincaid.

The novel is a popular romantic fiction book first published in 2016, although the book gained significant popularity in 2021 when it went viral on TikTok

As their story unfolds, Lily begins to notice instances of Ryle’s controlling and abusive behavior, and she must ultimately decide whether she should stay in the relationship. Lily’s journey illustrates the devastating realities of domestic abuse and the complexities of fleeing an unhealthy relationship. 

The book has been successful in the last year due to its popularity on social media, but its portrayal of the dynamic between Lily and Ryle overshadows the book’s achievements.

Representing trauma

It Ends with Us” provides the reader with insight into both a victim’s and a survivor’s perspective within an abusive relationship. Lily’s description throughout the book of her emotional process and feelings towards Ryle gives a  deeper understanding of why an individual might choose to remain in an abusive relationship. 

Although Lily is aware that Ryle’s behavior is recurring and violent, her inclination to stay in her relationship is rooted in her hope that things may eventually improve. Lily wants to believe that Ryle will change and that he can be good for her, yet recognizes that Ryle’s behavior towards her isn’t normal.

Hoover provides an understanding of how Lily can focus on Ryle’s positive qualities that give her personal justification to stay with him, despite other events that point towards the relationship being unhealthy and damaging. 

Lily’s disregard and denial of Ryle’s abusive traits and the escalation of his abuse in their relationship gives readers a greater perspective on how victims often find themselves trapped in the relationship.


Romanticizing abuse

“It Ends with Us” romanticizes the abusive relationship between Ryle and Lily because it portrays Ryle as a flawed character rather than as an abuser. He is described as a good boyfriend with issues, when in reality he abused Lily emotionally, physically and sexually throughout the novel. 

The relationship between the pair begins in an aggressive manner when Ryle repeatedly and forcibly attempts to speak with Lily, despite her refusal. The situation is described by Hoover as a passionate attempt from Ryle to win Lily’s heart, but he is actually just harassing her in his insistence to take her on a date. 

The persistence demonstrated at the beginning of their relationship evolves throughout the book, along with Ryle’s abusive tendencies. As the novel progresses, his manipulation becomes physical, culminating in a heated argument when he slaps Lily across the face. 

Ryle’s behavior is characterized as mysterious and complicated, which sends a damaging message to readers. The audience is compelled to sympathize with Ryle’s negative qualities and abusive tendencies as his childhood trauma is used as an excuse for his behavior. 

The most troubling instance of abuse in the novel occurs towards the end when a certain incident took place. Despite his inexcusable actions, Hoover consistently paints Ryle disproportionately to the gravity of his actions. 

Though Lily does decide to split from Ryle after this point, they are seen together many times as Ryle continues to ask for her forgiveness. Lily gives her daughter to Ryle for the day, aware of his violent tendencies but convinced that Ryle wouldn’t hurt a child. Her belief that Ryle would eventually emotionally mature was often used as justification for his inexcusable actions.

Although “It Ends with Us” is a gripping read, the concerning portrayal of Ryle’s abusive nature is inexcusable and ultimately comes across as a romanticization of harmful relationships.

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About the Contributors
Gaby Friedman, Media Team
Gaby Friedman ('26) is on the Media Team for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.
Leila Meilman, Media Team
Leila Meilman is a member of the Media Team for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.
Mymy Taymour, Reporter
Mymy Taymour ('26) is a Reporter for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.
Rudi Chamria
Rudi Chamria, Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online
Rudi Chamria (’24) is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Online of The Standard. She joined the newspaper in Grade 9 as a staff writer because she enjoys connecting with people through interviewing and utilizing her platform to highlight underrepresented voices. In addition to her role on The Standard, Chamria leads the Social Justice Council, plays tennis and engages in community service.

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