It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover
Narrated by Colin Donnell and Olivia Song
“You can stop swimming now, Lily. We have finally reached the shore”
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite of her books, and quite honestly, I didn’t really think it needed a follow-up (see my review). It was about Lily’s journey to breaking the cycle of abuse. Sure, I loved Atlas in IEWU, but despite loving it, I almost feel like It Starts With Us takes a little of the significance and power of It Ends With Us away.
First of all, I re-read It Ends With Us right before starting It Starts With Us. I HIGHLY recommend a reread first, (especially if it’s been 6 years like me) because It Starts with Us continues right where IEWU left off. To me, it read like a really long epilogue. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED It Starts With Us, I listened to the whole thing in one day, something I don’t know if I’ve ever done. But it was a second chance romance that just didn’t have that mind-blowing, emotional CoHo significance.
“Sometimes people think if they love a broken person enough, they can be what finally repairs them, but the problem with that is the other person just ends up broken, too.”
The first book ended with Lily bumping into her first love, Atlas, on the street in Boston. It was pretty clear that they found each other for life. It Starts With Us is the actual journey to get there. Lily is coparenting with her abusive ex-husband who still seems like such a great guy most of the time and has Lily second-guessing herself and her decisions. Most of her horrible fights with him were about Atlas, so of all people for her to move on with, Atlas would be the one to cause the most problems in her life.
“In the future…if by some miracle you ever find yourself in the position to fall in love again… fall in love with me.”
But honestly, who the hell could resist him? As we get to know Atlas more (the story is told in alternating POVs), we learn about his past and how and why he ended up homeless when he was 18 and how Lily saved his life. I loved the man Atlas turned into, but perhaps he was a little too perfect.
“We’ll be on our own brand-new, tiny family tree—one that starts with us.”
Note: After posting that I finished It Starts With Us in one day, I had a number of people message me asking for spoilers. I was so surprised to see people hoping for a happy ending for Ryle. I didn’t know there was a “Team Ryle”.
- This is a much happier book that didn’t break me.
- I loved the side story about the vandal at Atlas’s restaurants.
- I loved Atlas’s “therapist” and how he fun-bullied Atlas.
- I liked who Lily’s mom turned into.
- The letters from Atlas.
- I loved Alyssa and Marshall.
- The realism of the doubts Lily had about whether she made the right decision.
- There was a lot of repeat material in this short-ish book, especially in her journal entries to Ellen.
- Some of the 15-year-old Lily’s journal entries, though beautifully written, certainly did not sound like a 15-year-old.
- Having Ryle’s sister be Lily’s entire support system.
- I kept waiting for shit to hit the fan. It didn’t.
- I wanted more. It felt like there was some stuff that could have and should have been elaborated on, but don’t want to go into details because it will be spoilers.
Colin Donnell and Olivia Song are both new narrators to me and they were fantastic, I would certainly like to hear more from both of them. I think this book would be just as good whether read or listened to.
The Down & Dirty:
Rating: 4.5 Stars, 3.5 Heat, 5 Narration
Purchase It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover