Goodreads summary :

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up—she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

Oh my. What a book. And no, this isn’t my inner ‘Colleen-Hoover-is-queen’ self speaking, it’s me talking about this book without a single hint of bias towards the author, which I usually tend to have when it comes to only and only CoHo. I’m all for the ‘NA books are trash’ ideology, but I usually manage to justify my love for CoHo books. But this book? I don’t even need to do that. It was an exemplary, spectacular novel, and definitely is added on to my ‘favorites’ list.

[Also, I’m not writing this review in my usual pros-and-cons format because I have a lot to say which might be spoilery. And of course, you will be warned of spoilers.]

Non-Spoilery Section

Abuse, in literature, is a widely explored theme. I think by now, we all must have read different aspects of abuse in different genres and different forms, and through different eyes. And yet, this book manages to take up something completely different and new, and present it in a brave, unique way. The only other book I remember, which handles this aspect of abuse is Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult, and I remember loving that book too. This book, however, did a little bit more.

Colleen Hoover is on a roll. With each new book (let’s ignore Too Late), she gets better and better and better. Every time she comes out with a book, I read it in a day and sigh and tell myself that it’s my new favorite of hers. And then, damn! Turns out that she can even get better. Ooh.

I think the very uniqueness and the beauty of this story comes from the fact that it wasn’t just for entertainment purposes, like her other novels. This novel was a reflection of her own life, and she only says that in the very end after the story is over. The themes this book picks up, and the struggles and conflicts this book portrays are daring, brave, and empowering. 

When I read a book, I usually imagine what is happening, as if it’s happening right in front of me. It’s like my own personal movie going on. But when a book pulls me in enough to make me feel as if I’m in the book, and all of that is happening to me, and it is me who has to face the difficult situations and choices, I know I have found a book which I’ll never forget.

Hoover’s writing, as usual, is on point and it’s strong, powerful writing. It is set in a slightly conversational tone but it’s never annoying even for a moment (I hate it when the writing in a book is like a conversation going on between the reader and the character. Ugh. Biggest pet peeve. The only problem I did have (a tad bit of problem) with the writing, it that it got a bit preachy occasionally. There were times when all the preachiness and the philosophy got a bit tiring, (because it wasn’t particularly good) but apart from that, I harldy had any issues with this book.

As for story-telling, CoHo is a master of that, and she exceeded herself this time around. Somehow, the drama which usually irks me in her books, was pretty nonexistant in this one, and the story was realistic and engrossing enough to keep me reading all day.

The characters were amazing. I think the depth and realistic-ness to each was astonishing and I loved how my feelings for all the characters (especially Ryle and Lily) kept changing ever so much. I loved Ryle, but I also loved how CoHo sketched his character in such a way that by the end of the book, I was compelled to question my own self. I loved Lily, and the amount of empathy I had for her was surprising. Atlas was wonderful too, but clearly not meant to be the centre of attraction.

[Now, we move into spoilers. Please go ahead to the ‘Final Thoughts‘ part of the review. Also, this spoilers are extremely minor and nothing direct, but for best reading experience : I suggest you skip them. ]

Spoilery Section

[These are NOT direct spoilers, but spoilers of the central theme of the book]

So like I said, I’ve read a lot about abuse in books. Different forms, different aspects, different perspectives. But I’ve hardly ever read something where abuse is coupled with love. When the issue is not about intentional abuse, but rather about anger/distress which leads to loss of control which then leads to abuse. All unintentional, of course. All in the spur of the moment, of course. So what are you supposed to do? Continue loving this man who you know loves you, but occasioanlly turns into a monster, or leave him and end up breaking both of your hearts.

We look at this as a simple, easy decision. Abuse? Leave him! We say. He doesn’t deserve you, we conclude. This book challenges that, and presents to us exactly why it is so difficult to do so, and also why and how right it is to do so. We feel that it is easy to do so, to reject and let go a person because of their abuse, but like I said, this book put me in the shoes of the character, and I felt as if I’m the one who has to decide. And I too, by the end, reached a point where I was confused and had to question myself, filled with unsuredness and indecisiveness. And that was when I knew.This isn’t easy. This isn’t a black-or-white situation; it requires strength and determination, and hats off to Colleen Hoover for bringing all of that alive on paper. Because in spite of everything, it comes down to a choice between doing what you want to do and doing what is right, doing something for yourself and doing it for your child, parenthood and marriage, and behaviour and emotions.

Final Thoughts

I feel I haven’t done justice to the book, but we’ll let that go.

Overall, this book was an emotional ride. It made me feel so much hope and despair, and love and sadness and I cannot recommend it enough. Do read it if you want a different take on the themes I mentioned, do read it if you’re a CoHo fan (what are you even waiting for? *wide eeyes*) and do read it if you want an emotional NA book. It may not make you sob, but it will definitely make you feel and think.

My Rating

4.5/5 stars

Published by Anushka