Knight Reads: It Starts with Us


Courtesy of Apple Books

The cover of Colleen Hoover’s new book “It Starts With Us.”

As Colleen Hoover’s once wrote, “[N]aked truths aren’t always pretty.” Hoover is a multi-genre author whose novels tell the “naked truths” of domestic abuse, mental health, and real-life relationships. Her books have touched people’s hearts, with soul-wrenching realities, charismatic banter, and swoon-worthy romances. 

Books like Verity, Ugly Love, and It Ends with Us plunged her into the spotlight of best-selling authors, and her fan-base intensified. In particular, It Ends with Us, a novel about a florist who falls for a brooding, abusive neurosurgeon, has become one of Hoover’s most popular books. It navigated through the struggles of domestic abuse that are often overlooked, along with many power moments to remember. 

With high expectations and ratings from her previous novel, I expected the sequel to impress me. I’m sad to say It Starts with Us didn’t meet most of those expectations. I found it lacking in some of the content that made the previous novel so meaningful and unpredictable, so it came off as a sort of shallow continuation of its predecessor. While her story wasn’t necessarily completed in full, the protagonist, Lily Bloom, had already managed to break free the abuse she had incessantly put up. I had hoped the sequel would dive deeper into the long-lasting consequences, yet I feel like it mainly skimmed the surface and simply carried on the ideas of the previous novel. While it told Lily’s tale as a single mother, her blooming romance with Atlas, and explained further aspects of Atlas’s life, it fell short of what I had hoped. 

I think Hoover’s writing style was a large part of why I wasn’t a fan. Her writing, while navigating deep topics, can sometimes come across as cheesy and predictable,

— Lucy Loes

However, It Starts with Us had many moments where I couldn’t help but grin. Wisecracks, tender exchanges, and soft, sincere love are hallmarks of the romantic novel. I loved the new characters, and the new sides that are shown of our previous favorites. Throughout the hopeful nature of the story, the characters learn how to continue to break cycles of abuse and find love and family in the wreckage. The romance, however, came across as a bit rushed and less deep than I had hoped. Something was missing for me that would’ve taken the relationship from cute to passionate and meaningful. 

Most of all, I think Hoover’s writing style was a large part of why I wasn’t a fan. Her writing, while navigating deep topics, can sometimes come across as cheesy and predictable. While I was able to forgive it in It Ends with Us, due to the heart-warming nature it incorporated through the story’s heart-wrenching reality, it made the sequel feel even more surface level at times. While there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, the writing style made Lily and Atlas’s romance feel naïve and fairytale-like. Though to be honest, I may be biased as I have already read some legendary romances that are hard to beat. 

Despite my qualms, no one can deny the popularity and influence of Colleen Hoover’s novels. From self-published small-town writer to #1 bestselling author of 2022, her fanbase called the CoHorts has grown, and I can’t deny that there are many moments in her books worthy of her fame. Lily’s genuine, touching conversations with many of the side characters are definitely worth remembering. I’d give It Starts with Us a solid 3 out of 5 stars. While I think that Hoover’s books are a bit overrated and it’s definitely not worth going out of your way to read them, I can almost promise that you won’t regret reading about Lily and Atlas in It Starts with Us