Recently, Colleen Hoover has taken a top spot amongst best-selling authors. According to The New York Times, she “has sold more books this year than Dr. Seuss” and holds “six of the top 10 spots on The New York Times’s paperback fiction best-seller list.”
Her most famous titles, “Verity” and “It Ends With Us,” have taken young audiences by storm. As an avid reader, I can say that I have definitely indulged in a few of her novels, and while they may be good, there is one big issue I have with the most popular: “It Ends With Us.”
“It Ends With Us” follows the story of a florist named Lily Blossom Bloom. You may think her name is the main problem, but unfortunately it is not. Lily begins a relationship with a man named Ryle Kincaid, who turns out to be abusive.
In the beginning of the novel, we learn of the unsettling relationship Bloom’s parents had, which heavily influences her idea of love. She promises herself that she would leave immediately if a partner ever laid a hand on her, yet stays with Ryle despite his violent behavior.
While I believe that it is good to talk about domestic violence to raise awareness, her books should come with some sort of content warning or age rating that is visible to buyers.
Hoover has Lily stay in this harmful relationship for quite some time and characterizes Ryle as morally gray. Her narrative and stylistic choices might lead to younger readers viewing Ryle’s behavior as acceptable due to his traumatic childhood.
Although he may have suffered in his past, there is no excuse for intentionally hurting a loved one. Hoover’s attempt to convince readers to sympathize with Ryle is disgusting. The violence within this book is also incredibly detailed and hard to read.
Hoover does not delve into the gritty truth behind abusive relationships. Not once in the novel do we read about authorities getting involved, court orders, restraining orders or Lily cutting contact with Ryle’s relatives.
It’s hard to say that “It Ends With Us” is not a good read, but it just does not sit right with me to think that young people are reading this novel where domestic abuse is glorified as a dark romance. Within the last few years, “the main demographic for romance… has widened to include women 18 to 54,” according to National Public Radio (NPR).
NPR also stated that if you “ask a Gen Z woman what she’s read recently…there’s a good chance” that she will say Colleen Hoover. It also happens to be true that 47% of women aged 18-24 will have their first experience of violence from a partner.
Is it really a good idea for this demographic to read about a woman not leaving her abusive partner? It is even more unsettling knowing that this is not the first novel by Colleen Hoover that deals with such strong topics.
There is a high chance that young girls will see her name on a book and just pick it up, and that is where the issue lies. If a 14-year-old girl picks up “Verity” just because it’s by Hoover, she will read about at-home abortions and the attempted murder of infants – and if she picks up “It Ends With Us,” she could get the wrong idea about domestic violence.
I have a close family friend who is only 14 and reads books by Colleen Hoover. It honestly makes me uncomfortable considering their contents. I hope more than anything that she does not get the wrong ideas about love from them. These topics are extremely heavy, and it is more than odd to market these kinds of stories to such a young age group.
Hoover may be a best-selling author, but her marketing is not appropriate and should be changed. While her website gives age ratings for each book, there is no guarantee that the recommendations will be followed, and this could be extremely harmful towards the young women who reach towards her novels on the shelves.
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