It Starts With Us

AUTHOR: Colleen Hoover


It Starts With Us: Summary, Plot, Characters, Literary Analysis & More

“It Starts With Us” is a romance novel by Colleen Hoover, a New York Times bestselling author, first published in 2022.

In this book, Hoover beautifully captures the lives of Lily Bloom and Atlas Corrigan.

Lily, a single mother running a flower shop, and Atlas, a pivotal figure in her past, create a palpable tension balanced with empathy.

Through captivating moments like Lily falling asleep and Atlas writing to her, Hoover’s nuanced and empathetic characters navigate a story that touches on love, past wounds, and the potential for rekindled romance.

It Starts With Us': A poignant tale of personal growth, resilience, and the ripple effect of kindness, inspiring change and unity

The Plot

The plot of “It Starts With Us” revolves around Lily Bloom, a single mother with a history of domestic violence. Atlas Corrigan, her past flame, resurfaces and tells Lily about his own struggles.

As their lives intertwine once more, the story delves into their shared pain, the complexities of their emotions, and the possibility of healing through their connection.

The narrative skillfully navigates the impact of domestic violence on relationships while offering a glimmer of hope.


The characters of “It Starts With Us” come to life with vivid complexity, each carrying their own burdens and aspirations.

From the resilient Lily Bloom, who tends to her flower shop while navigating a haunting past of domestic violence, to the enigmatic Atlas Corrigan, whose reentry into her life sparks a transformative journey, the characters’ intricacies shape a tale of love, redemption, and personal growth.

Lily Bloom

Lily Bloom, a strong-willed single mother and owner of a flower shop, carries the scars of her past marked by domestic violence.

Her journey is marked by resilience and growth, as she grapples with her complex emotions, exemplified when Atlas Corrigan, her past love, reenters her life.

Atlas Corrigan

Atlas Corrigan, a pivotal figure in Lily’s life, is introduced as a character seeking redemption. His actions include asking Lily about their past and writing heartfelt messages to her.

As he navigates a rekindled connection, his nuanced persona evolves, revealing layers of empathy and personal transformation.

Ryle Kincaid

Ryle Kincaid, a significant character, is marked by his complex relationship with Lily. His sister’s presence and his jealousy of Atlas bring tension to the narrative.

Ryle’s actions, including pushing Lily away, provide a contrasting perspective on love and emotional struggles.


Josh, Lily’s ex-husband, shapes her past with a history of domestic violence.

His decisions to attend anger management classes and his involvement in Lily’s life contribute to the intricacies of her journey.

His presence underscores the challenges of co-parenting and the intricacies of moving forward from trauma.

Key Themes

“It Starts With Us” delves into themes of personal growth, domestic violence, and second chances.

Lily’s journey of healing exemplifies personal growth, as she overcomes her past traumas.

The theme of domestic violence is evident through Atlas’s conversations with Lily, addressing their shared history.

The prospect of second chances is illustrated by the evolving relationship between Lily and Atlas, where opportunities for redemption and love are explored.

Personal Growth

This theme is central to the story as the main character, Lily Bloom, undergoes significant personal growth throughout the novel.

She starts as a young woman trying to build her life in Boston and, through a series of events, finds herself caught in a complicated and abusive relationship with Ryle Kincaid.

As the story unfolds, readers witness her transformation from a relatively naive and hopeful individual into a much stronger, self-aware, and resilient person.

Her journey towards self-discovery and personal growth is a central element of the narrative.

Domestic Violence

The novel doesn’t shy away from addressing the complex and sensitive issue of domestic violence.

It provides a nuanced portrayal of an abusive relationship, shedding light on the psychological and emotional toll it takes on the victim.

Through Lily’s experiences with Ryle, the novel explores the cycle of abuse, the conflicting emotions that survivors often feel, and the difficulty of breaking free from an abusive relationship.

It also highlights the importance of recognizing the signs of abuse and seeking help when needed.

Second Chances

Lily’s past is marked by a traumatic event involving her father, and she finds herself presented with a second chance at happiness when she meets Atlas Corrigan, her first love.

This theme explores the idea that people and circumstances can change, and it raises questions about forgiveness, redemption, and whether it’s possible to move forward while reconciling with a painful past.

Genres in It Starts With Us

The novel falls within the genres of contemporary romance and drama, intertwining heartfelt emotions with intricate plotlines.

The evolving dynamics between Lily and Atlas, as seen in Atlas asking Lily about their past (also, Atlas tells Lily to leave Ryle) and writing heartfelt messages to her, contribute to the contemporary romance aspect.

The drama genre comes alive through events like Atlas brings Lily lunch and tense conversations that add depth to the narrative.

Language used in It Starts With Us

Colleen Hoover’s writing style weaves a tapestry of emotions, creating a vivid atmosphere.

Moments like when Lily falls asleep, Atlas asks Lily poignant questions, or when Atlas writes Lily heartfelt messages are portrayed with descriptive language that immerses readers in their world.

Hoover’s words bring out the intimacy and emotional depth of the characters’ experiences, enhancing the novel’s impact on readers.

Literary devices in It Starts With Us

Colleen Hoover skillfully employs an array of literary devices to illuminate the narrative. Through complex characters, exemplified when Atlas pushes Lily, the story gains depth and authenticity.

Hoover expertly employs foreshadowing, as observed when both Lily and Atlas face pivotal moments, deepening the intrigue.

Symbolism, like Atlas pushing Lily, adds layers of meaning to interactions, while the dialogue, especially concerning both Lily and Atlas, reveals their emotions and motives.


In the novel, similes are deftly woven to enhance understanding and reader engagement. For instance, as Atlas takes Josh under his wing, likening it to a mentorship, illustrates his protective nature.

The description of Atlas’s restaurant as vibrant as a bustling market showcases its lively ambiance. Additionally, Atlas discovers hidden truths that compared to unveiling a buried treasure, heightens suspense and emotional resonance.


Colleen Hoover employs metaphors to unveil deeper insight.

When Atlas prepares, it’s as if he’s sculpting his fate, providing a glimpse into his determined nature.

The moment Lily returns, it’s akin to a forgotten melody resurfacing, emphasizing her reconnection with her past.

The analogy of Atlas working to convince Lily is like a delicate dance, underscoring his efforts to bridge their emotional gap.

Similarly, when Lily leaves is portrayed as a closing door, emphasizing the weight of her decisions.

Atlas’s interactions with his mother mirror a mirror reflecting his inner struggles, allowing for a more profound understanding of his motives.


The relationship between Atlas and Atlas’s mother acts as a mirror reflecting his internal conflicts and adds depth to his character.

When Josh decides to take a new path, it’s like a fork in the road, representing pivotal choices. The plot summary functions as a compass, guiding readers through the narrative’s twists.

The analogy of a jealous ex-husband resembles a shadow, underscoring the lingering emotions that haunt Lily’s journey.


Descriptions of the bookworm box evoke the aroma of freshly printed pages, drawing readers into Lily’s world.

The portrayal of the love story between Lily and Atlas is painted with colors of vulnerability and passion, making their emotions palpable.

The imagery when Atlas meets Lily again resonates with warmth, capturing their shared history and setting the tone for the unfolding narrative. This might be the best romance published in the last couple of years.


The heart tattoo, etched with stories, embodies the characters’ vulnerabilities and scars.

The concept of book boyfriends delves into Lily’s emotional attachment to fictional characters, echoing her desire for ideal love.

The act of Ryle’s sister unraveling a knotted string mirrors the unraveling of complicated emotions.

When Ryle leaves the act casts shadows on love’s fragility, aligning with the novel’s exploration of intricate relationships.


The atria books, with their whispered secrets and dog-eared pages, become companions that mirror Lily’s emotions.

The concept of return Josh, likened to a ghost from the past, infuses his presence with haunting significance, deepening the impact of his reappearance on Lily’s journey.

These personifications elevate the narrative, infusing depth and resonance into the story’s fabric.


In “It Starts With Us,” various forms of irony weave through the narrative. The success of a best-selling novel underscores the juxtaposition between the complexities of its themes and its mass appeal.

Alternating perspectives introduce dramatic irony, where readers gain insight denied to characters, intensifying emotional connections.

This interplay of ironies deepens engagement, underscoring the dissonances and harmonies inherent in the story’s intricate fabric.


Lily’s first novel parallels her journey, showing that hard work nurtures love, akin to writing a first book.

The contrast of official couple status with the unpredictability of chance love deepens the complexity, making readers ponder the balance between destiny and choice.


The concept of chance love contradicts the notion of first love as predestined.

Amid the hard work of relationships, the paradox of chance love lies, highlighting life’s intricate intricacies.

This paradoxical interplay underscores the delicate dance between choices and fate, enriching the narrative’s texture.


The allusion to a first love reminisces about the fragility and intensity of initial emotions.

The concept of chance love alludes to serendipitous connections, echoing themes from literature and life. The first novel metaphorically mirrors the uncharted journey of love.

The hard work echoes timeless advice, while references to an official couple evoke societal norms. These allusions enrich the story’s layers, inviting readers to explore deeper connotations.


While not overtly allegorical, the novel can be seen as an allegory for the intricate journey of personal growth. The interplay of characters and their struggles reflect broader themes of resilience, redemption, and transformation.


“Ekphrasis” finds resonance when Lily returns, reflecting her emotional transformation.

The intricate portrayal of Atlas through words echoes an artist’s brush, creating a mental masterpiece.

Rhetorical Devices

Rhetorical questions, like emotional signposts, provoke thought and contemplation, deepening reader engagement.

The strategic use of parallelism guides readers through the characters’ evolving narratives, amplifying the emotional impact and thematic resonance.

These devices, skillfully orchestrated, draw readers into the story’s compelling web, creating a memorable and impactful reading experience.

It Starts With Us: FAQs

In this section, we address common queries and delve deeper into the intricacies of the story, characters, and themes that have captivated readers.

What is the central theme of “It Starts With Us”?

The novel explores themes of love, personal growth, and the transformative power of empathy, all centered around the intricate lives of Lily Bloom and Atlas Corrigan.

How does the relationship between Lily and Atlas evolve?

Lily and Atlas share a history marked by pain and love. Their reconnection prompts personal growth, healing, and the possibility of a second chance at romance.

What distinguishes “It Starts With Us” from other romance novels?

The novel delves into complex themes like domestic violence and healing, crafting nuanced characters that navigate intricate relationships, providing a depth beyond conventional romance stories.

How does Colleen Hoover’s writing style contribute to the impact of the novel?

Hoover’s vivid imagery, emotive language, and intricate character development create an immersive experience, allowing readers to connect deeply with the characters’ emotions and journeys.

How does the recurring motif of “Lily falls asleep” contribute to the narrative?

The motif symbolizes more than rest; it signifies a safe haven where Lily finds solace and healing. It also serves as a metaphor for her emotional journey throughout the novel.

Summing up: It Starts With Us: Summary, Plot & More

As you now know from this “It Starts With Us” summary, the story is a captivating journey of love, growth, and resilience.

The intricately woven lives of Lily Bloom and Atlas Corrigan, enriched with vivid imagery and emotional depth, offer readers a poignant exploration of complex relationships.

The novel’s themes of healing, redemption, and the power of empathy resonate deeply.

With its masterful storytelling, relatable characters, and heartfelt messages, this book leaves an indelible mark, appealing to those who seek both emotional depth and engaging narratives

Other Notable Works by Colleen Hoover

If you are interested in “It Starts With Us”, you may be interested in other works by Colleen Hoover including:

  • It Ends With Us“: A powerful and thought-provoking novel that delves into themes of love, strength, and difficult choices, leaving a lasting impact on readers.
  • Confess“: A heartrending story of secrets, confessions, and the redemptive power of art, where love and forgiveness intertwine in unexpected ways.
  • November 9“: A captivating tale of chance encounters and life-changing moments that occur on the same date each year, exploring the complexities of love and destiny.
  • Maybe Someday“: A unique story of unexpected connections, centered around music and the journey of self-discovery and healing.
  • Ugly Love“: A raw and emotional exploration of love, loss, and the complexities of human emotions, offering an intimate glimpse into characters’ hearts.

Colleen Hoover’s diverse range of novels captures the essence of human emotions and relationships, providing readers with thought-provoking and emotionally resonant stories.

The novel's themes of healing, redemption, and the power of empathy resonate deeply with readers.