Review: Bestselling Author Colleen Hoover Returns With “It Starts With Us”

Torch Photo / Dea Hoxha

Colleen Hoover returns with a sequel to her #1 New York Times Bestseller “It Ends With Us,” six years after its release. “It Starts With Us” was released on Oct. 18, continuing the story of a young girl’s healing journey following an abusive relationship.

Hoover captures the essence of a war between one and oneself while searching for a new beginning. More specifically, she captures the rocky road to peace after undergoing an abusive relationship. Lily Bloom and Ryle Kincaid meet, elope, have a child together and break apart. 

Lily witnessed abuse before, as her father was abusive towards her mother. Ryle’s heavy past fuels his rage and violence, which drives Lily away. Fan-favorite Atlas Corrigan — famous chef and Lily’s first love — is believed to be Lily’s knight in shining armor.

Incorporating each character’s heavy past, Hoover amplifies the emotional aspect of the series. “It Ends With Us” was filled with heavy content and the trigger warnings of abuse and domestic violence must be kept in mind. 

While the sequel does not consist of content as heavy, it picks up where the first book left off, shedding light on a difficult healing journey. “It Starts With Us” illustrates Lily’s conflict concerning her past. Knowing Ryle’s tendency of violence, she fears that opening up to Atlas, her first love, would affect her and Ryle’s co-parenting situation with their 1-year-old daughter, Emmerson. With the father of her child being a constant in her life, Lily struggles to live her life based on her own needs, not knowing how he would react.

A secondary character who deserves a bigger spotlight is Alyssa, Ryle’s sister and Lily’s best friend. She has been fully supportive toward Lily throughout the divorce and encourages her to move on, knowing it would hurt her own brother, and knowing that her brother still holds onto hope for a relationship with Lily. Hoover’s description of Alyssa brings attention to the fact that violence is never acceptable, regardless of one’s relationship with the offender.

Atlas Corrigan has been a fan-favorite in this series. Unlike “It Ends With Us,” the sequel shows both the points of view of Lily and Atlas, showing readers new aspects of the book, and introduces new information about the character. Hoover provides fans with a long-awaited detailed story of Corrigan’s life, who was known to be raised in an abusive family and who was homeless for most of his teenage years. As he now owns one of the most popular restaurants in Boston, providing his point of view added greater value in the novel.

It did not take long for “It Starts With Us” to become a bestseller, with good reason. Hoover’s novels are known to have plot twists that leave readers on the edge of their seats. This one is different. Although this “It Starts With Us” is a slower-paced novel as opposed to most of her previous novels, it is one with a significant message. It shows the reality of abuse and the truth behind the healing process. 

Hoover’s “It Ends With Us” reached its peak in 2021, and has held a spot on the New York Times Bestsellers List for 73 weeks and counting, currently ranking third on the Combined Print & E-Book Fiction list. New to the list comes “It Starts With Us,” ranking first on its first week on the list. A movie adaptation of “It Ends With Us” is currently in the works, directed by Justin Baldoni. Detailed information about the film has yet to be announced.