BOOK REVIEW: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

27362503._SY475_Title: It Ends With Us

Author: Colleen Hoover

Audiobook Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Sociology

Read Start Date: January 2, 2022

Read Finish Date: January 5, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: 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.

My Review: As of the writing of this review, this book has been on the NY Times Bestsellers list for 35 weeks. This book was also received a Goodread’s Choice award in 2016. Needless to say, this is a pretty popular book at the moment, despite having been published in 2016.

We meet Lily standing on a roof top in Boston, contemplating her decision not to eulogize her father, who had been abusive toward her mother. There she meets neurosurgeon, Ryle Kincaid, and although sparks are flying, Ryle is not the relationship type (as he himself proclaims). Although a little strange, at the time I didn’t give it much thought. I figured, okay he is just a player; but this reluctance is explained later.

Fast forward to sometime later, Lily starts her own business and hires coincidentally, Ryle’s sister. Thus, Ryle is thrust back into Lily’s life, and surprisingly, they start dating. At around this time, Lily’s first love Atlas shows back up in the picture (again coincidentally: they meet at Atlas’ restaurant where Lily is having lunch).

Fate seems to have brought 2 guys into Lily’s life. Lucky girl. Or is she?

Soon we start to see the cracks in the “nice guy” façade that Ryle has carefully constructed. Since the description of the book did not mention abuse, it came as quite the surprise to me. I was definitely not expecting it. If you are a person who has suffered from abuse and would be upset by descriptive scenes of physical violence, including rape, then this book may not be for you. I have to say that I was disturbed myself. It also irks me that this book is classified as a “romance” novel. When I think of romance novels, my mind does not envision an abusive relationship.

In any event, I’m sure by now you can figure out what Lily eventually decided to do about her relationship with Ryle (the title is big giveaway in this regard). Although the abuse was difficult to get through, Lily’s strength and resilience was inspiring.

Although Colleen Hoover wrote the book based on her mother’s own true story, I was a little irked that she wrote Ryle as not the villain, but rather as a person. Meaning, he wasn’t good nor bad, but made mistakes like we all do. He was a good brother and father, but made a horrible romantic partner. That being said, does being a good father, make him a good person? I don’t know. Can you be a good father if you beat the baby’s mother? That Hoover portrayed him as a sympathetic character who sometimes does bad things was strange. Should I feel bad for an abusive person? I certainly don’t want to, but somehow I ended up not disliking Ryle as much as I should have. So, there were some conflicting emotions for me with this one.

Have you read the book? What do you think about the portrayal of Ryle?

BOOK REVIEW: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

43848929._SX318_Title: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Audiobook Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Psychology, Self-Help, Sociology, Science, Business, Language, Communication

Read Start Date: February 9, 2022

Read Finish Date: February 11, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn’t true?

While tackling these questions, Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page. He was also producing for the ear. In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers, you’ll hear the voices of people he interviewed–scientists, criminologists, military psychologists. Court transcripts are brought to life with re-enactments. You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas. As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, and the suicide of Sylvia Plath, you hear directly from many of the players in these real-life tragedies. There’s even a theme song – Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout.”

Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world.

My Review: I listened to the audiobook version of this book and I have to say it was awesome. The audiobook is read by the author and also includes some bonus material e.g. recordings of the statements / incidents quoted in the book.

The book opens with the tragic story of Sandra Bland, a black woman, who commits suicide in jail after being arrested by an over zealous cop. She was originally pulled over for “failure to signal” after she changed lanes for the said cop without signaling, as he came up behind her. When the officer asks how she is, Bland responds that she is upset. The officer then asks her if she “is done”. Although the officer says that it was not meant in a sarcastic way, Bland takes it as such, escalating the traffic stop. When Bland lights a cigarette to calm her nerves, the officer asks her to put it out. She refuses. Escalating the traffic stop further, the officer tells her to get out of the car, because she had failed to follow his direction. Bland initially refuses. The incident was caught on the officer’s vest cam, and with the audiobook you can hear the actual tape.

The book dives into the potential reasons why this tragedy occurred. The author posits, for example, that when talking with strangers, people “default to truth”, in other words that we initially believe what a stranger is telling us, even if it is a lie. For most of us, the instinct is to believe, not distrust. Another example is “transparency”. Sometimes people are transparent and strangers can infer state of mind by actions, other times, people do not act as we think they should and so we misunderstand them. This is what happened in the case of Sandra Bland.

I really liked listening to the different stories that that author gave as support for his theory. Even if you don’t like, or agree with, the author’s theory, the stories were really interesting e.g. a cuban spy who no one suspected, the interrogation of KSM after 9/11, and the Amanda Knox story. What made it more interesting was the format. I can’t imagine reading this book in paper format. The quotes would have less impact when only read and not listened to.

I definitely recommend this book, but I think that it should be read as an audiobook.