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.
Synopsis from Goodreads
I’ve obviously heard about this book a ton in the last year or so (including from my high school students in our school book club) so I was really excited when my personal book club decided that this would be our pic of the month! We all had a sense of what the book was going to be about, but it was surreal how fast we all flew through it and were dying to talk about it in person (it rarely happens that all members of the Book Club are this excited). I don’t know that I necessarily have anything new to add in this review from what other people have said about it, but I did want to get my thoughts on the page on what I liked and felt about this book.
Handles the Grey Area of Problematic Relationships
So when my high school students first told about this book, the way one of them described it to me was that “it’s about an abusive relationship except you don’t always realize it’s an abusive relationship”. And this didn’t really make sense to me until I read this novel and recognized the moments the student was talking about. Hoover does a really good job at showing us the grey or problematic areas in a relationship where we have to step back and think “what’s happening here? Is everyone ok?” She doesn’t make it easy for us to automatically say “oh, Lily‘s in a bad relationship and needs to run.” Instead, readers have to take a minute to actually figure out why are we uncomfortable with what’s happening and why does Lily stay. Because so much of this novel has to the fact that she does stay. And it’s very easy to pass judgment on people, so I think Hoover did a brilliant job showing us how easy it is to stay in a relationship like this EVEN WHEN the person knows better.
Lily and Ryle are Too Flat
Please don’t yell at me, but personally I find that both main characters are incredibly boring. There’s nothing unique or exciting about either character, and by that I mean that Ryle (which is quite honestly very silly name) is the quintessential "dark prince" who likes to brood and we’re supposed to swoon over him. Honestly, it felt a lot like a Disney prince trope and you just knew something was wrong with him because of it. On the flip side, Lily just seems like the most boring person ever. So if Ryle is supposed to be this super enigmatic and womanizing, handsome doctor, why would he fall in love with this very (self proclaimed) plain person? I just didn’t really buy either of their personalities. I still really liked the novel and their relationship, but them as individuals was not interesting to me. However, I loved Atlas and cannot wait to read the book from his perspective!
You NEED to Read the Authors Note
I am someone who always reads the authors notes because I’d love to know the perspective on the novel and their inspiration for it, but even if you are someone who never reads the author note to, this is a book where you absolutely need to! No excuses, when the book is done read that last few pages. Personally, I feel like this completely change the time of the book for me. Although I was already done and loved it, reading the authors rationale for why she wrote it just hit home even harder and made everything so much more intense. As Hoover says, this book is very personal to her and I don’t want to give it away by saying why, but take the time to read that last chapter because I think it’s incredibly important.
So do I think that BookTok was right in all the hype around this novel? Yes, I do. This is a book that people should read to understand that abuse comes in all forms and that we should not simply judge someone on preconceive notions of what people should do in a relationship. Everybody is different, everybody is unique in how they handle trauma, and I think Hoover did a really good job telling this story in this way.
FINAL RATING: 4.5/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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