Book Review: It Starts with Us


Ashley Park

Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us, published in 2016, gained immense traction on the social media platform TikTok throughout the last year. As a result, a large majority of readers and fans sought a sequel, and on October 18, 2022, Hoover published her response to the overwhelming requests: It Starts with Us.

Succeeding the narrative of It Ends with Us, Hoover uses It Starts with Us to paint a picture of Lily Bloom’s lifestyle as a divorced mother to an infant. The story picks right up from the ending of the first book, in which Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan after allowing herself time to step into the norm of being a single mother. They hit it off immediately once again, and slowly they start seeing each other regularly. Despite being nearly two years single and no longer feeling obligated to respect her ex-husband’s obvious displeasure with her. The separation of Lily and Ryle leaves the two struggling to establish a medium, especially considering Lily’s constant worry that Ryle’s violent tendencies leave those she loves at potential risk. The story follows the newfound romance that takes root in Atlas and Lily’s relationship.

Unlike the majority of Hoover’s past novels, which tend to contain more heavy themes of toxic external difficulties, the main characters faced more of an internal conflict. Lily describes divorce to be difficult as it is incredibly complicated when a child is involved. This appears to be the main conflict in the plot. Some found the book to be somewhat underwhelming, considering the heavy excitement and expectations that had built up even before Hoover announced the release of the book. I thought the book served its purpose well, delivering a long-anticipated happy ending for fan favorites Lily Bloom and Atlas Corrigan.

Despite its release in 2016, It Ends with Us received a massive amount of positive feedback, which skyrocketed in 2021. Recommended by thousands of creators on the social media platform TikTok, It Ends with Us and author Colleen Hoover became well known throughout the reading community on BookTok. It Starts with Us is the final book in its two-part series and fits into the contemporary romance and young adult genres. Hoover originally intended for the book to remain a standalone, despite its recent popularity. Hoover shared in her note to the readers, “After It Ends with Us gained momentum on TikTok, I was inundated with requests for more Lily and Atlas. And how could I possibly deny a community that has changed my life? This novel was written as a thank-you for the tremendous support, and because of that, I wanted to deliver a much lighter experience. Lily and Atlas deserve it.”

Still, for a freshly published book, Hoover’s fans and lovers of romance novels alike are purchasing copies. And despite mixed reviews, it’s easy to conclude that the book falls in line with Hoover’s previous successful books.