Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up — she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. 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.


This was a reread in preparation of It Starts with Us.


”There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people that sometimes do bad things”

Here is some of what I wrote in my first review in 2016:

“Atlas stole my heart and I had to grasp tissues many times while reading his story. Lily was an incredible character compassionate, passionate and strong. What I loved above all else was her honesty. She dared examine her faults, her naked truths and did not shy from some hard reality. She realized what she took for granted, her vision of her mother was not exactly black and white but rather hundred shades of gray.

Lily Blossom Bloom (yes her name made me smile huge) met Atlas Corrigan when she was fifteen. He was homeless, eighteen and lived temporarily in an abandoned neighboring house. He went to school by bus, did not smell good, had no electricity, no water, no food, nothing.
Lily had a huge heart and helped him behind her parent’s back the best she could. Soon they’ll form a friendship watching Ellen DeGeneres’s TV shows in Lily’s house. They had to be quiet, to smuggle Atlas because Lily’s dad was not the best man on earth.

I found CoHo’s idea to retell Lily’s memories of Atlas through her Ellen’s diaries genius! These diaries were the best part of the book as I fell in love with Atlas right from the start. He was so dignified, so kind and so… abandoned he broke my heart. I wanted to hug Lily for her kindness and generosity. She was a fantastic character.

Atlas was somewhat desperate and did not know how he could make something useful out of himself. He wanted to join the army but he had to survive and graduate first. Lily gave him the strength and the hope.

”Plants need to be loved the right way in order to survive. So do humans…If we’re neglected …” His voice grew quiet. Almost sad. He wiped his hands on his knees, trying to get some of the dirt off. “If we’re neglected we end up homeless and incapable of anything meaningful.”…”You see that tree over there?” In the middle of the row of trees was an oak tree that stood taller than all the rest of the trees. “It grew on its own. Most plants do need a lot of care to survive. But some things, like trees, are strong enough to do it by just relying on themselves and nobody else.”

Colleen Hoover’s writing was very simple and down to hearth. She broached very hard topics without sugarcoating it neither overplaying the drama. It simply was. And it was very effective.”

I still very much agree in 2022 with all the above BUT I realise that this reread made me disagree with this paragraph below that I wrote in 2016:

“Years later Lily will meet a handsome and very driven neurosurgeon, Ryle. For all his hotness, attentions, courtship and change of heart as he wanted only a one night stand in the beginning I never let myself fall for Ryle. It was like Atlas had stolen my heart and I had erected a wall around it, preventing me to love Ryle. He was a lost cause to me but I must admit he was charming, well behaved, brilliant and had very good intentions. He loved Lily but…I was biased from the start.”

If I still adore Atlas, this second time around made me fall completely for Ryle! Even knowing what would happen!

My heart truly broke for Ryle because Colleen Hoover made me see him for who he was: a good person at heart but who did bad things because of something dramatic that happened to him in his childhood.

The same as alcoholism is a disease, even if many don’t see it like that, what he suffered from was greater than him. I could feel his love for Lily and yet…

I DIDN’T WANT HIM TO BECOME THAT! I wanted Ryle to also be happy.

This second read truly opened my eyes to all the nuances of that very sensitive and dramatic topic. Nothing was clear cut and everyone suffered!

I cried buckets at the end!

My conclusion from 2016 still stands though:

This book made me cry, made me smile with the naked truths, made me swoon and made me angry, very, very angry on Lily’s behalf. I’ve also been knocked off of my socks as I was forced to reconsider some preconceived views I had on women experiencing what Lily did. Like Lily I could not understand what they chose to do. It was incomprehensible. CoHo took me on Lily’s journey and I discovered the complexity of the topic. Everyone has its own story, its own good or not so good reasons to behave a certain way. This humbled me and for that I’m grateful to Colleen Hoover as I love books that make me think and challenge my beliefs.

My only regret: I would have loved a second epilogue, some years later. But that’s just me being greedy. »

Thanks for reading.


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  1. oh yay I am so happy that this one was a better read the second time around! I am always nervous to do that, afraid I will rate it lower haha But love seeing it being rated higher than five stars haha I know many readers love this author so I am glad you do too.

  2. I don’t think it was the point either, especially after reading CoHo’s dedication and hinting that herfather didn’t always do good but his best yet.

  3. I’d like to reread this one before It Starts With Us releases next week but I know I don’t have time. So I’ll live vicariously through your reread/re-review. :) I know many like to villainize Ryle but I don’t think that’s the point. Of course what he did was wrong and terrible on so many levels, but rarely are people all good or all bad and I think Hoover really showed that well here. He needed help, and Lily was right to leave, but at the same time, I still wanted him to go on and have a good life, too. (Would I be so magnanimous in real life? Maybe not. But I can afford to be in fiction.)