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Understanding the Chokehold "It Ends with Us" Has on Teens

Opinion

July 16, 2023

Books are incredible devices that have the power to touch our hearts, change our existing perspectives and spark thought-provoking questions. Words have the unique ability to elicit strong emotions and leave a lasting impact on young minds. Colleen Hoover’s novel, It Ends With Us, is a true masterpiece that gained almost immediate popularity among teenagers and young adults. Through her characters and story, Hoover manages to deliver a beautiful and emotional message that has captured the attention of many.

Hoover’s exploration of a sensitive topic

It Ends With Us unabashedly discusses taboo topics like domestic violence and abuse in romantic relationships. The novel provides an in-depth glimpse into the complexities of such relationships and the strong emotions associated with them. Hoover jumps between the past and the present with flashbacks of her parents’ abusive relationship and her current abusive relationship where the protagonist’s feelings are vividly described.

Readers are forced to face the truths that many face and, despite feeling frustrated by the slow reaction of the protagonist and her inability to leave the relationship, readers are made to understand that abuse is not an easy issue for many to tackle in reality. By shedding light on abusive relationships, Hoover publicises an issue that is so often brushed under the rug and teens are able to empathise better with survivors with a deeper sense of compassion. Additionally, Hoover’s choice to blatantly explore this topic provides exposure to young teens that abusive relationships exist and may not be as straightforward to approach.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Hoover’s relatable characters

The characters in It Ends With Us are beautifully crafted. Their pasts and personalities are presented artfully through Hoover’s use of flashbacks and internal monologues. The protagonist is presented in two parallel ways: as a teenager that finds herself trapped in a toxic household and as a woman who is struggling in her relationships.

In both versions of Lily, she is tied by her belief that she is less-than and she is seen to constantly question her self-worth. The character is one that many teenagers can relate to, as many teenagers grapple with their own internal conflicts as they navigate different relationships. Readers can visualize the connections between Lily's childhood and her current relationship. Hoover takes readers on a journey with her characters, exposing them to the protagonist’s feelings in the past and the present through Lily’s thought process as she tackles her abusive relationship. By creating such relatable characters, Hoover creates a connection with her readers, who are able to reflect upon their own experiences as they follow Lily’s voyage.

Encouraging empowerment

Readers are able to put themselves in Lily’s shoes and experience her pain and hopes to an extent. By interspersing the past with the present, the author creates a multi-dimensional personal story for Lily and lets the reader in on greater details of Lily’s life. By witnessing Lily’s growth, readers gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of abusive relationships. The novel empowers young readers to stand up against injustice and demand things that will make them happy.

One of my favourite scenes from the book is near the end where Lily finally ends the relationship and looks down at her newborn baby saying ‘It ends with us’, referring to the generational cycle of abuse. This scene sticks with readers as it reminds them that they don’t have to be stuck in a negative place and encourages them to take action to make a positive change in their lives.

Photo by Natalie Hua on Unsplash

Initiates important conversations

The novel discusses important societal issues and creates awareness of these issues. As teens get involved in the story and the characters, they are prompted to question societal norms, toxic behaviours and gender-based injustice.

Readers are provided with an avenue through which they are able to analyse their lives as well as societal expectations and influences. The book creates a safe space for young readers to explore and discuss topics that are often ignored and misunderstood, like abuse, forgiveness and unhealthy relationships, which foster emotional and social growth and provide an insight into the societal issues that persist in the world around them.

Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

It Ends With Us is definitely not a light read; it explores deeply intricate topics, prompting thought-provoking questions about individuals and society. Colleen Hoover’s novel offers an emotional journey that challenges young readers to confront uncomfortable truths while teaching them to be resilient in the face of different social challenges.

The novel’s themes are powerfully picked to communicate a beautiful story with a powerful message and the impact of the novel continues to resonate with readers long after they have closed the book, testifying to the transformative power of words in moulding young minds.

Rathusha Nimalan

Writer since Jun, 2023 · 2 published articles

Rathusha Nimalan is a Junior in high school and is a member of the literary magazine club at school. She finds solace in exploring the outdoors, photographing breath-taking scenes and writing out her deepest thoughts.

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