We’re pretty sure that reading It Ends With Us for book club, required you to have plenty of tissues ready. This book tells the story of Lily, a girl who spends her childhood watching her father abuse her mother, only to end up in a similar situation as an adult. Author Colleen Hoover uses her novel to tell the story of jealousy, emotional abuse, and generational trauma – a story she is all too familiar with herself.
This book has a lot of emotional heft and there’s a lot to talk about here, so be sure to use our It Ends With Us book club questions to help guide your discussion.
This It Ends With Us book club discussion guide has everything you need to dive deeply into Lily’s story during your book club meeting. It provides a brief synopsis of the novel, ten It Ends With Us book club questions and selected reviews to see what other readers are saying.
Once your discussion is done, check out the 3 books like It Ends With Us at the end of this discussion guide to find your next book club read.
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It Ends With Us Synopsis
It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover
Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up – she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.
Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing.
As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan – her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
With this bold and deeply personal novel, Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. It Ends With Us is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.
10 It Ends With Us Book Club Questions
- Let’s start with the title, what do you think the title it means?
- What did you think of Lily’s letters to Ellen DeGeneres? Was this an effective literary device to tell Lily and Atlas’s story?
- What were your initial thoughts about Ryle? Why do you think Colleen Hoover made the deliberate choice to make him so likable in the beginning?
- Ryle suffered from a traumatic accident when he was a child. Does this event excuse his behavior? Did this make you empathize with him?
- Lily says, “there is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.” Do you agree with her? Why or why not?
- Lily grew up watching her father abuse her mother. How do you think this influenced her future relationships?
- Why do you think Lily helped Atlas as children, and then continued to help him after people at school found out?
- After Ryle hits her for the first time, Lily says, “all humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”
How do you see Ryle and Lily turning their mistakes into lessons?
- Compare and contrast Lily’s relationship with Atlas and her relationship with Ryle. How did each change her as a person?
- Did you find yourself judging Lily’s decisions at any point in the book? What did this story teach you about domestic violence?
- Bonus question: Hoover’s parents had an abusive marriage, just like Lily. In an interview, she’s quoted saying that her “…mother filed for divorce when she was three, but she says that she never understood how someone as independent as her mother could have stayed so many years in an abusive relationship.”
How do you see the theme of generational trauma throughout It Ends With Us?
Selected Reviews for It Ends With Us
“When was the last time a book just completely slayed me, cutting me so deep and evoking such strong emotions? It feels like my heart has been filled, then broken. In the end, I’m stunned by what I read…”
“This book has many issues. Namely, the writing which never fails to make me cringe, an unnecessary romance subplot, annoying and underdeveloped characters, but I do appreciate its discussion on domestic abuse and the cycle of abuse. The red flags were definitely there from the get go before the abuse ever happened… But I will say that the fact that this book is marketed and recommended as a romance just feels so completely wrong, there is nothing romantic about this book.”
“It Ends With Us was not what I expected it to be… For the majority of the novel, I didn’t like it. I was definitely interested and curious, but I didn’t care for the characters as much as I thought I would. I was frustrated and annoyed at the situations, and some of it felt artificial, rushed, and stereotypical. It all seemed so… fictional. Usually, the romance satisfies me, but even that didn’t do it. [But] it wasn’t so much that I didn’t NOT like it, it was simply okay when I expected it to be amazing.”
“I get now why in the blurb this was called a ‘bold’ work from Colleen Hoover. I think this is her most provocative work to date […] Bravo to Colleen for pulling off telling this story, and the issue involved, in such a delicate but honest and raw way.”
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3 Books like It Ends With Us
If you are interested in reading more books about women breaking out of cycles of abuse, check out our guide for Educated (Tara Westover). If your group is on a Hoover kick, then check out our guide for Verity.
We Were Liars, E. Lockhart
We Were Liars tells the story of Cadence Sinclair Easton and a summer holiday on her family’s private island. That’s about all we can tell you without spoiling the ending. We Were Liars is a widely popular novel because of the suspense Lockhart creates.
While reading the novel, you can tell you’re missing a piece of the puzzle, but you’ll never guess what that piece is until Lockhart reveals it. If you become hypnotized by Colleen Hoover’s writing, you’re bound to get through We Were Liars in one sitting.
Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
If the romance between Atlas and Lily is the reason, you fell in love with It Ends With Us, your next read should be Me Before You. Louisa Clark lives a normal life until she takes a job as a caregiver for a wheelchair-bound Will Traynor. Since the accident that left him paralyzed, Will has lost the motivation to live, but Louisa refuses to give up on him.
Fair warning – make sure you have some tissues handy when you start reading this one.
It Starts With Us, Colleen Hoover
The sequel to In Ends With Us is set to hit bookshelves in October of 2022. It Starts With Us tells the story from Atlas’s point of view and is sure to be as beautifully written as the original novel. If you’re like us and can’t get enough Atlas content, be sure to set your alarms for October so you can be one of the first to pick up this highly anticipated sequel.
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Authored by Heather Cuellar.
The book that made her fall in love with reading was Harry Potter in the 4th grade, and she’s been obsessed with books ever since. She’s a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English. Studying English opened her eyes to how beautiful classic literature is, and she’s currently on a quest to read as many classics as she can get her hands on.