Book Review: It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover; A Mix of Drama and Trauma


Even if you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the American author of romance and young adult fiction Colleen Hoover. Hoover’s sensational success may simply be ascribed to BookTok—a subcommunity on the app TikTok.

It Ends With Us, the prequel to It Starts With Us, came out six years ago, but it gained traction on TikTok in 2021. Hoover’s passionate writing style and outlandish plot twists enthralled the bibliophile community of BookTok, as they sought a continuation of Lily Bloom’s too-good-to-be-true love story with Atlas Corrigan.

It Starts with Us was written for CoHo’s CoHorts (Collen Hoover loyal readers), and the Texas author wanted to deliver a much lighter experience to her readers this time. After finishing the book, I can declare, with certainty that it was not a light read at all, as I found it extremely upsetting to recall the pain Atlas and Lily endured in their lives.

What is It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover about?

It Ends With Us ended on the possibility of a future for Lily and Atlas and the readers finally got that future in It Starts With Us.

The novel is divided into 37 chapters that alternately show Lily and Atlas’ perspectives.

Having not spoken in two years, Lily and Atlas cross paths. Ryle and Lily are currently divorced and co-parenting amicably. However, Lily is aware that given his jealousy of Atlas, Ryle won’t be exactly thrilled with her dating Atlas. When they were teenagers, Lily and Atlas fell in love, but life led them down separate roads. In the present day, they know that they are meant to be together, but they will need to work around the scar that is Ryle.

Some new characters are introduced in the plot such as Josh and Theo. Atlas’ mom drops a bombshell on him when she tells him that he has a brother named Josh. The book gives a deeper insight into Atlas’ relationship with his family. Theo being the 12-year-old therapist to Atlas brings a lot of comic relief to the book with his one-liners.

Which were the saddest parts of It Starts With Us?

When Ryle came to Lily’s home and found that Lily was dating Atlas, he completely lost his temper. In a sudden fit of rage, he pinned Lily against the door and grabbed her by the throat. This brought back all the pain which Lily experienced in her relationship with Ryle. Lily was hopeful that the responsibility of their newborn child would change Ryle but she was “shattered” to know that Ryle had not changed even a bit.


The way the author depicted Sutton’s angst towards Josh when Atlas dropped him home was unbearable to read. One can not even imagine what Josh had been through when he told Atlas that he “can usually tell when it’s a concussion.”

Which were the cutest parts of It Starts With Us?

Atlas and Lily’s official first date was sweet and emotional. Lily fell asleep in the car and they never even made it to the restaurant that Atlas had chosen because she was so exhausted after doing mommy duty the entire night. Atlas let her sleep while reading the journal Lily had given her. It was certainly one of the cutest Lily-Atlas moments. Later, Atlas wrote a heartfelt letter to Lily sharing “a little grittier” version of their past.

The interactions between Atlas and Theo were super adorable. Atlas shared with Theo the story of his encounter with Lily where he said to her, “You can stop swimming now, Lily. We finally reached the shore.” With his humorous one-liners like “Lily, what the heck, our boat is wrecked.” and “Look! It’s sand – we’ve reached land!” Theo kept making fun of Atlas for this throughout the entire book.

Which parts of the novel failed to impress?

The letters to Ellen were an integral part of It Ends With Us but seeing the same letters in It Starts With Us felt like a waste of space. Many of the readers felt as if they were reading an epilogue to the first book.

I found the vows a little underwhelming in comparison to the other notes that Atlas wrote to Lily. The note in which he asked her to move in with him was so romantic. But with all the discussion of statistics, the vows didn’t quite strike the appropriate note.

Does ‘It Starts With Us‘ has a happy ending?

The novel offers closure to all It Ends With Us fans who yearned for Lily to have a happy ending following the domestic abuse she underwent during her marriage with Ryle. The book ends with Atlas making a few last-minute changes to his wedding vows (YESS! Lily Bloom ended up getting married to Atlas Corrigan).

What is the main message of It Starts with Us?

It Starts with Us is a ray of hope for women who have been victims of domestic violence and have chosen to break the vicious cycle of abuse. It tells them that they, too, deserve happiness in their lives. It tells them that in a world full of people like Ryle Kincaid, there are also people like Atlas Corrigan.


Are you supposed to read It Starts With Us before It Ends with Us?

According to the author of the book, Colleen Hoover, “For the best reading experience, It Starts With Us should be read second in the two-book series” as it is the sequel to It Ends With Us. The first novel provides insight into how Lily endured the trauma of an abusive relationship with her ex-husband, Ryle, and how her childhood love returned to her life.

Summary of It Ends With Us

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover is about a girl named Lily Bloom who is getting ready to start her new journey after graduating from college. She then meets Ryle Kincaid and falls in love with him. Atlas Corrigan, her first love, reappears and challenges Lily and Ryle’s relationship just as she is developing feelings for him. The story also explores Lily’s early years in an abusive environment, her entry into an abusive relationship with Ryle, and her subsequent divorce.

Colleen Hoover- The Author of It Starts with Us

Colleen Hoover is the bestselling author of twenty-four novels and novellas on the New York Times bestseller list. Hoover’s books are classified as New Adult and Young Adult contemporary romance, as well as psychological thrillers. The 42-year-old Hoover has had three to six books on Publishers Weekly’s top 10 bestselling list on any given week for more than a year, claims Slate.

Quotes from the It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover

Lily: You are going to drive five miles just to give me a hug?

Atlas: I’d run five miles just to give you a hug. 

Marshall: When I think about Ryle hitting you … I get absurdly angry. Because I love him. I do. He’s been my best friend since we were kids. But I also hate him for not being better. Nothing you have done and nothing you could do would excuse any man’s hands on you out of anger. Remember that, Lily. You made the right choice by leaving that situation. You should never feel guilty about that. Pride is the only thing you should feel.

Atlas: How in the world she can make me so whole when I had no idea I was only half of myself without her?


Lily: 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.

Atlas: I’m so happy you’re happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you. But I will say, nothing beats knowing I’m the one you get to be happy with now.

Atlas: It is my wish for you to be my fish.

Where to buy It Starts With Us?

For those who want to read this novel full of romance and drama, It Starts With Us is available on Amazon.

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Murryam Hafeez

I am a Transportation Engineer by profession and also a voracious reader. I read everything, from novels to the ingredients written on my jar of peanut butter.
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