Colleen Hoover is an author known for her romance novels with an audience of young adults and teenagers. She’s best known for her book “It Ends with Us” which includes topics of abuse and toxic relationships. There are ways to write about these topics without romanticizing them and making this behavior seem acceptable, but that’s not seen very often.
When reading a book that involves subjects of abuse it could be just a story to others, but to some, this is real life. Writing about abuse and relationships the main character just can’t seem to get out of, then wrapping it in a layer of romance does much more harm than good, if there is any good to come out of this. Consider Hoover’s audience, young adults and teenagers, mainly young women. To a certain extent, Hoover is teaching young girls that being treated with disrespect is acceptable and not at all a problem. Glorifying these relationships leads to young women seeking out men who behave in a similar manner as the antagonist. Gen Z has such a warped perception of love and romance altogether, books and media like this are the leading reason.
People are stuck in toxic and abusive relationships, not able to leave their partner without putting their life at risk or even their children’s life at risk depending on the situation. When an author makes this a fantasy to young women who haven’t lived through these experiences you’re practically setting them up for failure, not seeing anything wrong with their boyfriend’s behavior when he’s just acting like a character in a book to them. Should they just let him continue because that’s what the main character does when her boyfriend acts in the same manner?
Hoover writes in a way that makes the reader sympathize with the abuser. While reading reviews of the book “It Ends with Us” I see the recurring theme of “We loved Ryle” “She made me fall for Ryle” and “I loved Ryle from the start way too much.” Ryle is Lily’s boyfriend, the main character. He physically assaults her on multiple occasions, in more ways than one. This doesn’t change readers’ minds. In these reviews that mention how much they love Ryle, they don’t once say he did anything wrong or that his behavior isn’t acceptable. This is such a harmful narrative to portray to young women, giving readers the idea that their partner putting their hands on them is excusable behavior. In one review the reader starts her review “This book is a must-read whether you have been in or around domestic abuse, or if you know of someone who has.” I think this completely shows that this book misses the mark of bringing awareness to abuse. Suggesting that people who have been in these situations should relive them, but wrapped in romance and lust.
It’s so difficult to leave when you’re stuck in a relationship, this book represents that, but there are much better ways to go about this. Without sympathizing with the abuser and leading readers to say that they love him, and not change their minds about it. There are very mixed reviews when it comes to the question “Did this book romanticize abuse?” Readers are given the choice to see it as romance, and most young girls do. Given that they haven’t gone through something similar, it can seem like a fantasy. This is a recurring theme in books like “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “After.”
This isn’t the first time abuse has been romanticized, and it certainly won’t be the last, but the recognition Hoover has been gaining recently I think it’s worth pointing out. Once again books containing subjects of abuse that are specifically tailored to young girls are just gross. There’s no lesson to be learned, it’s solely for entertainment, though abuse shouldn’t be considered entertaining to anyone. If you read Hoover’s books or anything remotely similar remember these relationships are not to be idolized or sought after.