‘It Ends With Us’ author details novel’s dark inspiration, casting decisions for upcoming film

Left: Blake Lively wears a pale pink suit and smiles. Right: Justin Baldoni wears a plaid shirt with blue blazer and smiles
Colleen Hoover revealed that “It Ends With Us,” starring Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni, above, is based on her mom’s abusive marriage, and addresses an aging flub that had readers side-eyeing the casting of the film’s stars.
(Joel C Ryan; Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

Colleen Hoover is opening up about the inspiration for her bestselling 2016 romance novel “It Ends With Us,” and it’s much more personal than readers may have realized.

At last week’s Book Bonanza — Hoover’s annual fundraising book festival in Texas where readers can meet and greet their favorite authors — the reigning queen of BookTok sat down with Jenna Bush Hager of “Today” and revealed some of the backstory. She also addressed the movie adaptation’s slight rewrite that had fans side-eyeing the casting of Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni.

The story, loosely based on the life of Hoover’s mother, follows Lily, a recent college graduate who grew up with an abusive father.


She moves to the city and falls in love with an abusive neurosurgeon, Ryle, and finds herself repeating the toxic romance patterns she witnessed as a child.

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Her first love, Atlas — played by Brandon Sklenar — reemerges, shaking things up. But ultimately, Lily must decide the course of her life.

“My mother and father divorced when I was 2 and one of my earliest memories was him throwing a TV at her,” Hoover told Hager during their interview. “She was able to get out of that relationship. And then from then on, I just remember growing up with a mother who was so strong and independent.”

Hoover said readers seemed to connect with “It Ends With Us,” and that she found it heartwarming that her mother’s story had given other women the strength to leave dangerous situations.

Hoover was over the moon with the casting of Lively as Lily and Baldoni as Ryle, but fans seemed baffled when they caught wind — as both actors are about a decade older than their novel counterparts. But Hoover said she had initially written the characters too young, and casting Lively and Baldoni let her remedy the flub.

“As an author, we make mistakes,” she told Hager. “The aging of the characters was my fault.”


When contracted to write “It Ends With Us,” the romance novelist said the new adult genre that centers around college-age characters was especially popular, but her math was off when writing characters with established professions. “There’s no 28-year-old neurosurgeons, you [have to] go to school for 15 years!” she said.

“And so to make corrections to what I messed up in the book, we aged the characters up somewhat.”

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The movie adaptation also stars Jenny Slate and Hasan Minhaj. Baldoni is directing and Lively will co-executive produce alongside Hoover, Baldoni, Steve Sarowitz and Andrew Calof. Christy Hall penned the screenplay based on Hoover’s bestseller. A release date has not been announced.

Hoover became a bestselling sensation in 2012 when she self-published the book “Slammed” through Amazon’s self-publishing program so her grandmother could read one of her stories. Through word of mouth, “Slammed” became an unlikely hit and landed on the New York Times bestseller list. At the time, Hoover says she was poor and living in a single-wide trailer.

“We didn’t have a front doorknob but we lived a great life,” she told Hager. “We just struggled a little bit financially.”

Hoover’s books have been a fixture on bestseller lists, but “It Ends With Us” is her most successful, with more than 1 billion tags on TikTok, more than a million reviews on Goodreads, and the forthcoming film adaptation.