A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Breaking a familiar cycle is very difficult; it's much easier and less scary to stay in the cycle you know, even if you know it's not a good one. Instead of wondering why women stay in abusive relationships, we should wonder why men are abusive. Character isn't the mistakes you make, because everybody makes them; character is taking your mistakes and turning them into lessons, not excuses. There's no such thing as bad people; we're all just people who sometimes do bad things.
Positive Role Models
Lily is a model of compassion, perseverance, and empathy. She helps a schoolmate who doesn't have a place to live by giving him food, clothing, and shelter and doesn't judge him by his housing situation. She understands how other people feel and becomes better and putting herself in others' shoes. She works hard to achieve her dream and doesn't give up even when it's hard. Atlas is a good model of humility and integrity. Once he becomes successful he doesn't brag or make a big deal about it, he just keeps doing what he loves. He's very patient with Lily and never pressures her or acts inappropriately when she's not romantically available.
All characters read as cisgender, heteronormative, able bodied, neurotypical, and White. One minor character is gay.
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Violence & Scariness
Witnessing physical abuse throughout childhood is a strong theme. The narrator describes her father slapping, choking, attempting to rape, and knocking her mother to the floor. She also hears him beating a friend with a baseball bat and the sound of bones breaking. In the present the narrator is pushed down stairs, head butted, bitten, nearly raped, hit, and knocked down by her husband. Blood, pain, and fear are described without being gory. Mention of past suicidal thoughts and holding a razor to a wrist. A character reveals scars on the arms from receiving cigarette burns. Past instances of children accidentally shooting and killing a sibling. Sex is used to intimidate when a man arouses a woman by penetrating her with his fingers and while doing so pulling hard on her hair, squeezing her throat, and asking her questions out of jealousy.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Detailed, erotic descriptions of adults having sex mention genital and manual penetration, manual stimulation, thrusting, tremors, entering, pulling out, moaning, biting, tremors, jerking with release, a tongue on a breast, and detailed descriptions of kissing with tongue and caressing. Teen sex in the past is described vaguely with kissing and breathing. Characters talk and think a lot about romance and having sex. Condom use is mentioned once. Sex is used to intimidate when a man arouses a woman by penetrating her with his fingers and while doing so pulling hard on her hair, squeezing her throat, and asking her questions out of jealousy.
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"F--k," "s--t," "d--k," "c--k," "dammit," "bitch," "whore," "asshole," "boobs," "crap," "Jesus," "Jesus Christ," and "holy hell."
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Products & Purchases
Rare, incidental mentions of consumer products, usually to establish character.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults occasionally drink wine and beer, not to excess but mild drunken behavior is shown. A few times drinking hard liquor or drinking to excess happen and result in violence. A character smokes marijuana once.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that It Ends With Us is a contemporary romance by popular author Colleen Hoover, who has attracted a lot of attention from book influencers on TikTok. This adult book is not marketed to teens, there's a lot of teen appeal here, not just in the sexy stuff but also in the extended passages from the narrator's high school diary. Sexual content includes erotic and specific descriptions of sex between adults including genital and manual penetration, manual stimulation, thrusting, tremors, entering, pulling out, jerking with release, and more. Sex in the past between teens is described vaguely mentioning only kissing and breathing. Domestic violence is a very strong theme, with the narrator remembering growing up seeing her father hit and abuse her mother many times, including almost raping her mother once. As an adult the narrator experiences abuse at the hands of her husband like being pushed down stairs, pushed or knocked against hard surfaces, and needing stitches after being head-butted. Sexual stimulation is used to intimidate by being threatening while causing sexual arousal. A past thought of suicide mentions holding a razor to a wrist. A character shows arms scarred with marks from cigarette burns. Strong language includes "s--t," "c--k," "d--k," and "f--k." A character smokes marijuana once. Adults drink beer and wine with some tipsiness shown. Excess drinking and drinking hard liquor are always followed by violence. An author's note at the end lists a resource for victims of domestic violence and a link to resources for people who are unhoused.
Is It Any Good?
The writing in this contemporary romance is a bit uneven, with corny, overused phrases and predictable cliches. Author Colleen Hoover is at her strongest, though, in the diary entries the narrator reads from when she was 15 years old. They add a lot of emotional honesty to It Ends With Us, and make narrator Lily easy to understand and root for.
Of course the sexy stuff has built-in appeal, but teens will also enjoy imaging what their own lives might become after high school. And the author's honest treatment of tough subjects like being unhoused and domestic violence will foster empathy and understanding, and add depth to what would otherwise be a pretty standard romance novel.
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