It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover should be on everyone’s reading list during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In this young adult novel, Hoover draws from her personal life experiences to craft a story about the complex reality of loving your abuser.
It Ends with Us is the story of Lily Bloom, a smart, empathetic and driven young woman, who wishes only to save others from their pain. Lily is the daughter of an abuser and although her father has never been abusive toward her directly, she has grown up bearing witness to the pain her mother has gone through. Lily resents her mother for refusing to leave the situation. When Lily falls in love with an intelligent, seemingly perfect neurosurgeon from Boston, she finds herself in the same abusive situation she always wished her mother had run from.
It Ends with Us captures some of Hoover’s genius for entertaining, wrapping readers in a love triangle between Lily, her husband, Ryle and Atlas, the boy she once saved from the dangers of homelessness as a teenager.
Hoover weaves the story around prevalent issues and messages: The love story is entwined with a central message of the complexities of domestic violence. Although there is no end to the important takeaways in this book, the central point is that blame should never be placed on the victim of abuse for not leaving a situation. Rather, we need to place all of the blame on the abuser.
Lily learns this lesson the hard way. Through being in an abusive situation herself, she learns when you love someone, it is incredibly easy to justify their actions to yourself. Although Lily eventually does the right thing for her life, she comes to understand the complexities around her mother’s situation and forgives her mother for being unable to leave her father so many years ago.
Relevance in 2020
This story is exceptionally relevant in the context of the current pandemic. During the lockdown, living situations were compromised for many people. Even now, many people are living in unusual environments. Students are working from home rather than being on campus. Some children are at home more often than at school. Many jobs have moved from the office to online. All this change is rendering many former safe spaces unavailable.
Current research has shown domestic abuse has increased around the world since the beginning of the pandemic. Although domestic violence is an issue that should be given attention at any time, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust it into mainstream discussions due to the recent difficulty of seeking shelter outside the home. More than ever before, greater awareness should be given to the issue of domestic violence. The pandemic has prevented people everywhere from being able to freely leave their homes, creating unsafe situations for people who may be in abusive relationships.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or a suspected victim, here are some online resources: Nova Scotia Domestic Violence Resource Centre (nsdomesticviolence.ca) and for a list of phone numbers and services for domestic abuse victims in Nova Scotia, see novascotia.ca/just/victim_Services/family_violence.asp.