It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover – Book Review

Posted in: Novels
It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover book review novel summary

A sequel to It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, this novel, as the title suggests, comes out with a positive note and a joyous predicament as readers could expect – It Starts With Us. The book became an instant bestseller because its predecessor broke a few records. It Begins With Us carries on the story from where it ends in the previous instalment. Before I start with the book review, let me begin with a brief synopsis of the storyline so that readers can catch up (those who have read the previous novel already).

Summary of It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover:

The love story continues between Atlas Corrigan and Lily Bloom as they navigate obstacles like Lily’s abusive ex-husband, Ryle, and Atlas’s newfound brother, Josh. Despite the challenges, they become a couple, with Atlas supporting and protecting Josh from their abusive mother. Ryle’s jealousy and aggression lead to confrontations, but Lily stands her ground, insisting on supervised custody of their daughter and anger management classes for Ryle. As their relationship deepens, Atlas proposes that Lily moves in with him, and they prepare for their wedding, reflecting on the significance of their past and the strength they’ve built together.

Critical Comments & the Book Review:

The above storyline revolves around the theme of love and relationships, particularly focusing on the complexities and challenges that can arise in romantic connections. It portrays a love story that is not merely a fairy tale but one that involves real-life issues and struggles. This aspect can be seen as a strength of the storyline, as it adds depth and authenticity to the characters and their emotions. By exploring the impact of abuse, jealousy, and family dynamics on the relationship between Atlas and Lily, the narrative becomes more relatable and relays an important message about the complexities of love.

The theme of love is depicted through various relationships in the story, such as the bond between Lily and her daughter, Emerson, and the newly found brotherly connection between Atlas and Josh. These relationships showcase different aspects of love and how it can manifest in various forms. The presence of a troubled past with an abusive ex-husband challenges the conventional notion of love, shedding light on the importance of standing up for oneself and setting healthy boundaries in a relationship. The encounter between the past and the present adds the necessary conflict for the novel to keep moving.

However, one potential criticism of the storyline could be the inclusion of abuse and jealousy as significant elements in the narrative. While these themes do add drama and conflict to the story, some readers may find them distressing or triggering. Such sensitive topics need to be handled with care and sensitivity to avoid romanticising or trivialising serious issues like abuse. Additionally, the quick progression of the relationship between Atlas and Lily, despite the ongoing turmoil in their lives, might raise questions about the realism of the portrayal of their love story. However, readers, thousands, have loved and approved of the story… by reading and liking the novel. And therefore, we can only put critical conjectures for the sake of letting readers know what is and what could be an alternate version.

However, the book, It Ends With Us, as many readers and critics have pointed out, would have done well without this sequel as well. The novel is more like a sympathy aggregator or crowdfunding for empathy – do you see it? The novel literally cries and howls, after 10 pages or so, to show some sympathy for the characters, Atlas and Lily. Do so because they have suffered a lot. Eventually, a reader with critical eyes may find out that the novel is no more about a story but about making a case for the protagonists who want to assert their love – in awkward ways – almost in a vacuum.

“If it takes a million kisses for her not to think about the scars that surround her heart tattoo, then I’ll kiss her there a million and one times.”

The quote above may make a perfect case for such criticism (also attempted above). And likewise, a reader may find many such generic utterances of love and declaring how one is dedicated to another… almost out of nowhere and without much valid context. And it might fill the novel with unlimited declarations of love without an actual story that would gleefully accommodate all these flowery wishes and statements. It is almost overpowering without any power.

It is true that romantic novels that prioritise romance over a well-developed story often fall into the trap of superficiality, sacrificing substance for sentimentality. In light of this observation, Colleen Hoover’s novel It Starts With Us perfectly fits into the slab! It is apparent that the characters and their interactions become one-dimensional, overshadowed by contrived and clichéd romantic situations, albeit in words more often than in action. Such an excessive emphasis on the romantic aspect can lead to a lack of depth in the plot and weak character development, ultimately leaving readers feeling unsatisfied and disconnected from the narrative. The novel by Colleen Hoover, instead of exploring genuine emotions and complex relationships, tends to rely on predictable tropes and idealised notions of love, failing to tackle more profound themes or issues that could make the story truly impactful and relatable. As a result, readers seeking a more engaging and thought-provoking experience may find themselves disappointed with this book that prioritises fleeting emotions at the expense of a compelling and well-rounded storyline.


In conclusion, I can only say that these novels (including the ones by Colleen Hoover, EL James, and their Indian counterparts like Chetan Bhagat, Durjoy Datta and Ravinder Singh) may offer respite from the mundane realities that we often want to ignore. Nevertheless, a respite does what it does. It offers comfort for a few moments and then we are back to reality with nothing to ponder. On the other hand, serious novels may offer you something to think about once the novel ends. In short, It Starts With Us may end right at the end of it. Works of serious substance, on the other hand, may continue with the thoughts and inspiration you may gather from them… Precisely, It Starts With Us is not up to the mark and expectations that it raised in the wake of the first novel in the sequence, It Ends With Us. It falls flat… lands heads down!


Review by Ashish by ReadByCritics

It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover – Book Review
  • ReadByCritics Rating


It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover offers no beginning… in terms of newness. It bangs on the doors of love. Does it again. Again and again. And that’s it. A storyline that accompanies the novel is poorly sketched and seldom can it hold serious readers (even of romantic novels).

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