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It Starts With Us Summary, Review and Key Lessons

It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover explores the complex and touching journey of former lovers Lily Kincaid and Atlas Corrigan as they navigate their past traumas, their present struggles, and their hopes for a shared future. 

This sequel, published in 2022, delves deep into the realm of rekindled love, personal growth, and the challenges of family dynamics, providing a compelling narrative that balances the heavy themes of domestic abuse and single parenthood with the warmth of rediscovered affection and the courage to fight for those we care about.

Read this review to know more about what the book is about and what you can learn from it. 

And in case you want to jump directly into the questions, we have an exclusive list of book club questions for It Starts With Us

It Starts With Us Summary 

In this emotionally-charged sequel to its predecessor, Lily Kincaid and Atlas Corrigan reconnect after many years, stirring up old feelings and opening new challenges. 

Atlas, dealing with a break-in at his restaurant and a mysterious half-brother, finds comfort and inspiration in Lily. Meanwhile, Lily, a successful florist and single mother, must navigate the complexities of her relationship with Atlas while dealing with her abusive ex-husband, Ryle, and their shared custody of their daughter. 

As Lily and Atlas rekindle their romance, they must face their traumatic pasts, confront their present, and fight for a future that includes not only their love, but also a safe and stable environment for those they care about. 

Their story intertwines love, family, and personal growth in an intense journey that tests their resilience and bond.

It Starts With Us Summary

Also Read: The Maid Summary And Key Lessons

My Review

Colleen Hoover’s follow-up to her bestselling novel “It Ends With Us” is a powerful and emotive exploration of love, trauma, and resilience. With this, Hoover doesn’t shy away from a nuanced portrayal of abusive relationships and their aftermath, delivering a story that’s simultaneously harrowing and hopeful.

The novel picks up the thread of the relationship between protagonists Lily Kincaid and Atlas Corrigan. 

The alternating perspectives of Lily and Atlas provide an immersive reading experience, each character imbued with a rich, authentic voice that feels achingly real. 

Hoover’s decision, once again, to delve deeper into the complexity of these characters’ emotions and pasts is a commendable aspect of the novel.

Her narrative shines a light on the enduring power of love and its ability to heal, even in the face of monumental obstacles. As the relationship between Lily and Atlas evolves, their shared past and individual traumas come to the fore, resulting in a poignant and affecting love story.

Atlas’s storyline, in particular, is heart-rending, revolving around his struggle to protect his young brother, Josh, from their abusive mother. 

Hoover weaves this subplot into the main narrative seamlessly, expanding the scope of the book and allowing for an exploration of themes of responsibility, brotherhood, and familial bonds. She also daringly confronts the consequences of domestic violence, the destructive legacy it leaves behind, and the courage it takes to break free. 

Lily’s confrontation with her abusive ex-husband, Ryle, and her efforts to protect their daughter, Emerson, from him, are depicted with brutal honesty and sensitivity. 

These episodes resonate with a jarring intensity that underscores the unflinching realism of Hoover’s narrative.

Despite the intensity of the subject matter, Hoover infuses It Starts With Us with moments of tenderness, warmth, and genuine affection. The love story at its core is a slow-burning one, with the connection between Atlas and Lily deepening in a way that feels both satisfying and believable.

However, some readers might find the novel’s resolution somewhat quick, with certain plot developments tied up neatly in a way that may feel at odds with the messy realities of the issues Hoover addresses. 

Yet, these moments do not detract significantly from the overall impact of the narrative.

With It Starts With Us, Hoover continues to establish herself as a significant voice in contemporary fiction. Her gift for creating compelling characters, coupled with her exploration of tough subjects, results in a novel that is as challenging as it is rewarding.

In conclusion, It Starts With Us is a gripping examination of the intricacies of love, abuse, and the struggle for redemption. It’s a journey that’s difficult, sometimes brutal, but ultimately uplifting. 

This novel will resonate deeply with those who appreciate well-drawn characters, layered narratives, and stories that don’t shy away from the darker corners of the human experience.

Also Read: West With Giraffes Summary and Review

Key Lessons

1. Overcoming the cycle of abuse is tough and challenging

Both Lily and Atlas have endured abuse in their pasts, but their responses to these traumas are markedly different from the abusive behaviors they’ve experienced. 

Lily takes a stand against Ryle’s abusive behavior by choosing to leave him, even at the cost of her own comfort and security, and seeking legal protection for herself and her daughter. 

Atlas, on the other hand, goes beyond merely escaping his abusive mother; he actively strives to prevent his younger brother from suffering the same fate. 

Both characters serve as examples of how it is possible to rise above one’s circumstances and to make the conscious decision not to perpetuate the cycle of abuse.

2. The Importance of Non-Violent Conflict Resolution

The novel also underscores the necessity of resolving conflicts without resorting to violence. 

This is seen most notably in the confrontation between Atlas and Ryle, where despite Ryle’s physically aggressive behavior, Atlas manages to defuse the situation through dialogue and reason. 

The interaction between them highlights the idea that violence only perpetuates harm and exacerbates existing problems, while calm, reasoned discussion can be a path towards resolution and mutual understanding.

3. The Value of Authentic Love and Selfless Sacrifice

Atlas’s letter to Lily, where he shares his painful past and how her love transformed him, manifests an authentic love that transcends pain and past trauma. 

This love involves a willingness to make sacrifices for the other person’s wellbeing, seen when Atlas agrees to fight for Josh’s custody, despite the challenges involved. 

Similarly, Lily’s decision to keep Emerson away from Ryle, despite the discomfort it may cause, represents a mother’s selfless love for her child. 

Thus, the story reinforces the idea that true love isn’t just about passionate emotions but involves selfless acts of sacrifice and the courage to make difficult decisions for the other’s wellbeing.

4. The Power of Understanding

This is demonstrated through the relationship between Atlas and Josh. 

When Atlas discovers that his younger brother, Josh, has been vandalizing his restaurant, his initial reaction could have been to resort to anger or retaliation. However, upon understanding Josh’s circumstances – the abusive environment under their mother, Sutton – Atlas offers compassion and opens his home to him instead. 

Atlas’s ability to empathize with Josh’s situation and provide support, even when faced with hostility, is a testament to the power of understanding in healing and nurturing relationships.

Final Thoughts

If you liked It Ends With Us, you would love this sequel as well. So, a read from my side. 

However, for those who like limited drama in their stories and much more mystery, it’s a skip for you. 

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