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New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover took over the literary world (and bookstore shelves) with her backlist titles. We both recently, somewhat reluctantly, read It Ends with Us by CoHo, as she is referred to by millions of fans.
While the book has phenomenal ratings, we went in concerned about a romance novel with themes of domestic abuse, afraid it wouldn’t be a great role model for young women. And while reading, we both wanted to throw the book across the room at points.
Yet, somehow, by the end of this emotional read, we joined those anxiously waiting for the long-anticipated sequel.
Is there Another Book After It Ends with Us?
YES! The sequel, It Starts With Us, is available as of October 2022! However, if you haven’t read It Ends with Us yet, be sure to read it before even reading the sequel synopsis to avoid spoilers.
Before we get to the list of books similar to It Ends With Us, we wanted to do a quick synopsis for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. If you’re new to Colleen Hoover books like we were, it’s a great place to start.
It Ends With Us Summary
The book follows two major periods in the life of Lily Bloom. First, as a teenager, when she notices one of her classmates, Atlas, sleeping in the unoccupied house behind hers. When she begins sneaking him food, they develop a friendship that leads quickly to deep first love. Lily’s life at home isn’t perfect, but everything feels right with Atlas. When they are separated, they vow to find each other again as adults.
Years later, on the day of Lily’s father’s funeral, she has a chance encounter with a gorgeous neurosurgeon, Ryle Kincaid. Despite Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships, he has a total soft spot for Lily. From the first time he sees her, he can’t get her out of his mind. Lily is busy trying to set up her own business, but when they run into each other again, she’s also intrigued.
We want you to enjoy the twist and turns of Colleen Hoover’s book on your own, so we won’t share any more of the plot. Just know that this captivating romance is also a heartbreaking novel that tackles important issues.
Be sure to read the author’s note at the end of the book. It explains the author’s relationship to the difficult subject matter. After reading, you’ll know how she was able to write something with such an emotional punch.
One other important note is that we feel the writing style shines in audio form. While reading part of the book on Kindle, Melissa felt that while the story was page-turning, the writing wasn’t as strong. However, when she switched to listening, all the weaker parts suddenly worked perfectly and felt authentic. This is especially true with longer sections of dialogue. Angela listened to the audiobook from start to finish and was hooked throughout. So if you enjoy audiobooks, we highly recommend that format.
Both the Kindle and audio versions of It Ends With Us are included with Kindle Unlimited as of 4/12/22.
Now that we’ve recapped, let’s dig into the best books to read if you like It Ends With Us!
Books Like It Ends With Us
We've tried to steer clear of spoilers while still explaining why these are great books to read after It Ends With Us, but if you haven't read IEWU yet, and you want to go in knowing as little as possible, then you might want to bookmark this list for later.
by Sarah Jio
When they meet as teenagers, Lily sees Atlas for who he really is and does not define him by his circumstances. Similarly, in Always, Kailey is determined to understand how her former love, Cade, has wound up homeless on the streets of Seattle and to help him get his life back on track.
Back in the ‘90s, Kailey and Cade fell in love and she was convinced they’d spend their lives together. But when their romance ended very suddenly, it took her years to get over him and find someone else. Then one night, after enjoying a fancy dinner out with that someone else - her fiance, Ryan - Kailey notices a homeless man outside the restaurant. When she looks past his frail frame and bearded face, she is shocked to recognize that the homeless man is Cade. Kailey is determined to find out what happened to him and help in any way she can, but the longer she keeps this secret from Ryan, the more complicated things become.
Like It Ends With Us, this story alternates between the past and present, and it will force you to confront your ideas about homelessness.
The Good Sister
by Sally Hepworth
If you enjoyed the suspense of wondering what decisions Lily would make, The Good Sister has a similar page-turning vibe. It has alternating narration between 28-year-old twin sisters, Fern and Rose. Fern thrives on routine and must avoid crowds and noise. She does all she can to avoid getting upset because that has led to tragedy in the past.
Rose is her rock and has acted as caretaker for Fern their entire lives. So when Fern finds out Rose can’t have a baby, she decides to get pregnant and give Rose her baby to pay her back. In her mind, this is a straightforward idea. But the plan ends up revealing layers of dark secrets along the way.
The narration of The Good Sister is excellent if you enjoy audiobooks!
The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah
Like Lily, the protagonist in The Great Alone grows up in an abusive home and has a hard time understanding her mother’s choice to stay, and like Lily, Leni finds herself drawn to a young man that her father doesn’t approve of.
Returning home from Vietnam after being held as a POW, Ernt is not the same person he was before he left. When he impulsively decides to move his family to Alaska to live off the grid, his 13-year-old daughter Leni is hopeful that it will be the fresh start the family needs for a better future. But when the harsh reality of her father’s behavior meets the harsh reality of an Alaskan winter without proper preparation, Leni and her mother realize there is no one to save them but themselves.
One True Loves
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
In It Ends With Us, Atlas’ sudden reappearance threatens everything Lily has built with Ryle. This aspect of the story immediately reminded us of one of our favorite Taylor Jenkins Reid novels, One True Loves.
In this story of love and loss, Emma married Jesse in her twenties, but he was killed in a helicopter crash on their first anniversary. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma has finally found love again with an old friend, Sam. But when Jesse is found alive, she’ll be forced to choose between her husband and her fiance.
The Serpent King
by Jeff Zentner
While It Ends with Us follows Lily from her high school years into her 20s, The Serpent King is another look at teenage life with an abusive parent. In this case, you'll meet three friends trying to survive being the outcasts in their tiny town.
Dill's father is a Pentecostal minister who first drew attention for his extreme beliefs and then for a major scandal. His best friend Travis has his own demons in the form of an abusive father, so he escapes into a book series called Bloodfall. Dill has secret feelings for friend Lydia, a free spirit, sarcastic fashion blogger who dreams of leaving rural Tennessee and heading to New York.
Woven into this story of three unlikely friends trying to navigate the end of high school, you'll find stories of small-town life and themes of courage. But, you'll also need a box of tissues handy!
Small Great Things
by Jodi Picoult
The best way to describe It Ends With Us is that it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. There were times when we wanted to put the book down (or throw it at a wall) and just walk away, yet it just kept pulling us back in.
Although the topic of Small Great Things has little in common with It Ends With Us, it immediately came to mind when we thought about other books that provide a similar emotional rollercoaster ride. Like IEWU, this book is disturbing and painful to read at times, but it’s totally worth it. In fact, if we had the power, we’d make this book required reading for everyone!
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse with twenty years of experience. After being reassigned away from a newborn patient, she learns that the parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey the orders of her superiors based on the parent's mandate or does she intervene?
This story is told from three alternating points of view: Ruth, the nurse; Kennedy, her attorney; and Turk, the newborn’s white supremacist father. You may need to take a little break after reading the first chapter from Turk’s perspective, but after some deep breaths, please, please pick this book back up and keep reading.
Love and Other Words
by Christina Lauren
If you loved the second chance romance aspect of IEWU, Love & Other Words used the same trope, but with a different storyline.
Mary Sorensen and Elliot Petropoulos grew up spending weekends together as the best of friends. As they got older, their shared love of books and words turned into a sizzling teenage romance.
The book is told in a split timeline as you watch their relationship develop as teens, but then also see Mary as an adult, working on her pediatrics residency. She’s engaged to someone else when she unexpectedly runs into Elliot at a coffee shop.
Something happened in the past to tear them apart, but when they see each other again, the chemistry is as strong as ever and they must come to terms with both the past and the present.
The People We Keep
by Allison Larkin
After a difficult upbringing, Lily in It Ends With Us, proved herself to be very resilient and found a way to follow her dream of becoming a florist while putting her own spin on it. Similarly, the protagonist in People We Keep, is determined to make a better life for herself.
Sixteen-year-old April has a rough life. Her mother abandoned her at a young age and her father has left her to fend for herself in a motorless motorhome that he won playing poker. She works at a diner but dreams of being a songwriter. After flunking out of school and another fight with her dad, April sets off to find a better life for herself.
Along the way, she meets others with hard stories, which turn into the perfect inspiration for her songs. Through her lyrics, we get a glimpse at April’s inner thoughts, similar to the way we understand teenage Lily, in It Ends With Us, through the letters she wrote to Ellen. April will discover that family doesn’t have to mean the community you were born into. People you meet can become family as well.
While this book has very high reviews overall, some find it a bit too slow-paced and say have a hard time liking April’s character in the first half. If you dislike character-driven plots, this might not be the right pick for you.
Lease on Love
by Falon Ballard
Did you love Lily's new flower business in It Ends with Us? We recently read a lighter novel with the main character who is also juggling a new flower shop and her personal life.
When Sadie doesn't get the promotion she both needs and expects, she immediately adds three things to her to-do list - a drink, a one-night stand, and a new place to live. Unfortunately, she tackles these tasks in the wrong order. The drinks turn into Sadie mixing up a dating app and a roommate app. Whoops!
Jack has been dealing with the unexpected death of his parents by escaping into movies and video games alone. After hearing her story, he offers Sadie the spare bedroom in his gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone at an excellent price.
The cheap rent lets her grow her former-side business into a full-time gig. But how long can these polar opposites happily co-exist in one house?
Wish You Were Here
by Renee Carlino
If Lily and Ryle’s story rocked you to your core and you’re looking for books to read after It Ends With Us that pack the same emotional punch, pick up Wish You Were Here by Renee Carlino (not to be confused with the new Jodi Picoult novel by the same title). This story doesn’t get as dark as It Ends With Us, but you’ll find it equally hard to put down.
Charlotte feels adrift. She’s spent her twenties bouncing from job to job and guy to guy, just waiting for something to hold her interest. But all that changes when she meets a gorgeous painter named Adam. Like her, he seems to be lost. The two feel an instant attraction and spend one amazing night together - filled with champagne, Chinese food, and the best conversation. But there are also red flags. Adam gives Charlotte the cold shoulder when the morning rolls around, leaving her both hurt and confused.
When she’s still unable to get Adam off her mind months later, Charlotte is determined to find out why he pushed her away after their perfect night together. Will this decision rewrite their love story, or has the ending already been written?
Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty
If Lily had made a different choice, she could have ended up just like one of the characters in Big Little Lies.
Madeline is funny, biting, and passionate; she remembers everything and forgives no one. Celeste is beautiful, but the illusion of perfection comes at a price. Single mom Jane is new to town and has a mysterious past. She's so young that other moms mistake her for a nanny.
The three women at the heart of this story are very different, but they all wind up involved in the same shocking situation.
The Other Son
by Nick Alexander
If you’re wondering what to read after It Ends With Us, how about a book that takes a close look at how Lily’s story might have turned out if she made a different decision.
From the outside, it appears that Alice has a perfect marriage. But the reality is very different. She has, in fact, been unhappily married for 50 years. Her husband, Ken, becomes violent when he’s angry. Alice always put up with it because she thought she was putting the needs of her kids ahead of her own.
But now their two sons are grown up. One son, Tim, is a successful banker living nearby with his wife and children. The other son, Matt, bounced around from job to job and is now traveling abroad and Alice can’t keep track of what continent he’s on. At 69 years old, Alice is finally beginning to wonder if she made the right decision for all these years, and what would happen if she finally decided to put her needs first.
The story is told in three parts: first showing us what Alice’s marriage looked like over the past 50 years; then from Tim’s perspective as he and his wife chase their dreams; and then we meet Matt, “the other son,” whose story helps to put all the pieces together. This book obviously deals with challenging issues, but the author does not rely on graphic descriptions of violence and there are also plenty of humorous moments throughout.
The ebook is included with Kindle Unlimited as of 4/12/2022.
You Might Also Like: Nick Alexander also wrote another novel that explores abusive relationships - You Then, Me Now. In this book, Becky is searching for answers about the father she never knew. Her mom, Laura, has never been willing to talk about him. When Laura books a trip to Santorini, Greece, Becky decides to join her. But what Becky thought was an impulsive vacation reveals itself to be more than that. She soon realizes that her mom has a history with the island. You Then, Me Now is written from both mother and daughter's points of view - with Becky's chapters set in present-day, and Laura's chapters transporting us back to her early 20s.
You Then, Me Now is currently available free in both ebook and audio formats with Kindle Unlimited.
by Marissa Stapley
Are you looking for another family drama with a bit of suspense?
Protagonist Lucky grew up with a grifting father, which meant they had no stability and traveled from city to city working on different kinds of scams to get by.
As Lucky gets older, she yearns for a more traditional family and dreams of going to college. Could a rich boyfriend be her path to normalcy? Or will he be even more damaging than her father?
Along the way, Lucky discovers a winning lottery ticket. It could finally lead to independence, but there is one major problem. Lucky’s face has been all over the news as the feds search for her in connection with a significant financial crime.
This book is included with Kindle Unlimited as of 4/12/22.
In Five Years
by Rebecca Serle
Like many readers, we went into It Ends With Us expecting one thing and found something very different. In Five Years is another great read that is not the love story you might expect it to be. If you’re looking for a light and happy read, save this one for later. But if you’re ready for another emotional rollercoaster, then buckle your seatbelt.
Dannie Kohan is a rising Manhattan attorney who just nailed an important job interview and then she got engaged. She’s had one heck of a great day and goes to bed confident that she’s on track to achieve her five-year plan.
When she wakes up, she finds herself in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and next to a different man. It’s still December 15 - but it’s now 2025, five years later. One intense and shocking hour later, Dannie wakes up again back in 2020.
Was it all a very realistic dream? She decides it must have been and tries to forget all about it. But the memory is suddenly brought back to the surface when, four and a half years later, Dannie meets the man from her dream.
The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane
By Kelly Harms
What if Lily hadn’t had the resources to live on her own?
The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane gives a glimpse into the desperation and reliance on hope that happens to so many women without a clear escape path.
In Cedar Falls, Iowa there are two women, each named Janine Brown, who desperately need their own fresh starts. One is heartbroken from a loss, and the other has an abusive boyfriend she is desperate to escape.
When a home and garden TV network announces that Janine Brown from Cedar Falls, Iowa has won a dream home in Maine, they both assume they are the winner. When each Janine (nicknamed Janey & Nean) arrives in Maine, they discover the mix-up, but neither is ready to return to their prior reality.
While both of their stories are compelling and will stir your emotions, wise and witty Aunt Midge provides a lighter break to keep things from being too heavy. She'll keep you laughing while the younger Janines sort through past hurts and try to find the best way forward in life.
This book is included with Kindle Unlimited as of 4/12/22.
by Nicholas Sparks
What if Lily had to leave Boston and start life over in a new town?
In the novel Safe Haven, Katie arrives in a North Carolina town with a lot of secrets. Although she tries to keep to herself, widowed dad Alex begins capturing her heart.
As Katie becomes attached to Alex and his children, she wants to put down roots but remains terrified of the secrets of her past. A new friend, Jo, lends consistent support as Katie tries to choose between remaining on the run and opening her heart to real love.
As with most Nicholas Sparks books, you’ll experience an array of emotions while reading. Reviewers enjoyed Safe Haven because it adds suspense to his standard romance themes.
by Beth O'Leary
On the surface, this is a lighter rom-com, but it deals with some serious issues, including the main character, Tif, trying to rebuild her life after leaving an emotionally abusive relationship.
When night-shift worker Leon needs some extra cash to help a family member, he decides to get a roommate. The problem is that he has a one-bedroom apartment with one bed.
So, he places an ad for someone to sleep in his bed while he's at work. Of course, they'll never be home at the same time, but it's still a crazy plan.
Thankfully, it's just the affordable solution newly single Tif needs. Since they're working opposite shifts, they communicate primarily in post-it notes back and forth. Those notes are sure to make you laugh out loud!
What You Wish For
by Katerine Center
Like It Ends With Us, the first few chapters of What You Wish For may have you convinced that you’ve picked up just another romance, but as the story unfolds you’ll find so much more. Katherine Center’s writing captures the bittersweet struggles of real-life and the two main characters are each struggling with traumatic pasts. You’ll alternate between laughing out loud and reaching for the tissues, but this story is ultimately uplifting.
Samantha is a school librarian who loves her job at her current school and who has a bold zest for life…but she hasn’t always been that way. Duncan, the new school principal is very regimented and unwilling to stray from the rules…but he hasn’t always been that way.
Sam and Duncan have met before. They worked together at another school years ago, back when they were both very different people. When Duncan takes over as the new principal at Sam’s school, she’s shocked to discover that the fun-loving guy she remembers has turned into a completely different person - one she’s afraid will ruin everything she loves about her loving and welcoming school community.
As things spiral out of control, Sam and Duncan are forced to get real with one another, and to reveal to each other the traumas from their pasts, in order to save the school, and themselves.
Born a Crime
by Trevor Noah
We found Colleen Hoover’s author’s note at the end of IEWU very powerful, and it helped us to better appreciate her motivation for writing the novel. It’s hard for many people (no less a child) to understand why any woman would stay in an abusive relationship. While the other books on this list are all fiction, we feel like Trevor Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime, also adds a valuable perspective to this conversation.
Born a Crime is the true story of Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s childhood and into his early adulthood. His rise to success was unlikely based on his beginning. Trevor was born in South Africa in 1984 to an unmarried Black mother and white father. He spent his early years largely hidden from life outside because his mother feared (with good reason) that he could be removed from her custody because of the apartheid rules of segregation.
When the era of white rule officially ended in the early 1990s, it was far from the end of the family's troubles. One of the things Trevor struggled with as he was growing into the man he is today is why his mother wouldn’t walk away from a man that abused her and her son.
In this memoir, you’ll find a mixture of relatable and shocking stories mixed with Noah’s signature humor. We highly recommend this one on audio, read by Trevor himself.
by Colleen Hoover
Most fans of Colleen Hoover will tell you that It Ends With Us is very different from any of her other books, though they are all very highly rated. If It Ends With Us was your first time reading Hoover’s work and you’re wondering which of her novels to pick up next, we recommend Ugly Love.
When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, it’s definitely not love at first sight There is a mutual attraction - but that’s the only thing Tate and Miles have in common. He makes it clear from the outset that he has no interest in finding love, and that’s fine by Tate because she doesn't have time for love. That just leaves sex - and we’ll warn you right now that if you’d prefer not to read all the steamy details, this is not the book for you!
The arrangement that Tate and Miles come up with seems simple enough - they’ll enjoy their time together, but they both agree never to ask about the past and that they won't expect a future. Of course, it’s never that simple. Promises and rules get broken, hearts get involved, and love gets ugly.
Are there any other similar books like It Ends With Us that you recommend? Let us know in the comments!
For more books with characters in similar stages of life, check out our Main Characters in their 20s post next!
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Thursday 21st of April 2022
Hello, I love your lists and invite you to read THE MOMENTS BETWEEN DREAMS (see advanced copy on NetGalley or contact my publicist for an ARC paperback to ship to you both). Why read The Moments Between Dreams: The timely themes of the novel blend a backdrop of war, a virus, and an increase of domestic violence during the 1940s-50s that parallel issues relevant today. The novel follows Carol and her disabled daughter as they rally to walk together, drive a car, work, and gain liberties that women are held back from during the times. A hot-tempered husband/father make things difficult, making an escape paramount. I certainly will buy you coffees if you consider this in your WWII 1940s list and the list if readers like Colleen Hoover's It Ends With Us. The Moments Between Dreams debuts May 17, 2022 and has been ordered by bookstores in LaGuardia (The Strand); and independent bookstores in the Midwest.
https://www.edelweiss.plus/#sku=1626349339&page=1 https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/250184 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59652288-the-moments-between-dreams
Author website: judithfbrenner.com
I welcome both of you to my book launch event May 24 online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-book-launch-judith-brenner-the-moments-between-dreams-a-novel-tickets-310776620237