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“There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.”
The book opens with Lily Bloom, sitting on a ledge of a very high building in Boston. She’s contemplating the vicious eulogy she gave for her father earlier in the day. As she enjoys the night sky, a very handsome man joins her on the roof. His name is Ryle Kincaid and he’s a neurosurgery resident. The two quickly develop a rapport, but Lily turns down Ryle’s offer of a one-night stand.
Months later, Lily decides to open a flower business and immediately hires a perky woman, Allysa, who she met on the street. But Lily is soon surprised to find out that Allysa’s brother is none other than Ryle Kincaid! The doctor and the florist are thrust together once again, and despite Ryle’s reservations about dating, the two start to see each other after beginning a sexual relationship. But Lily is rocked when she runs into her old friend and lover from her teenage years, Atlas Corrigan.
When Lily was a teenager, her world was very tragic, because her father routinely lay violent hands on her mother. To comfort herself, Lily wrote diaries to her hero, Ellen Degeneres. In present day Boston, Lily reads her old letters to Ellen, and thinks back to how she met Atlas. A homeless teen, Atlas was squatting in an abandoned house behind Lily’s own home. Atlas and Lily became close friends and allies, gradually falling in love. When Atlas turned eighteen he joined the army, but he and Lily consummated their relationship before he left for overseas. They vow to meet again one day in Boston.
In the present day, Lily decides to stay with Ryle, despite having rediscovered Atlas. She is soon madly in love with Ryle. But her beau has issues with anger, and is soon repeatedly pushing and shoving Lily in moments of rage, even sending her to the hospital for stitches.
Despite the abuse, Lily marries Ryle. Lily’s breaking point eventually comes when Ryle discovers Lily’s old diaries and reads them. Enraged that Lily had not been more forthcoming about her connection with Atlas, Ryle harms his wife and then attempts to rape her, before changing his mind. Lily calls Atlas, who picks her up and takes her to the hospital. They discover that Lily is pregnant with Ryle’s baby.
During her pregnancy, Lily debates whether or not she should return to Ryle. Ryle had confessed that he accidentally shot his brother as a child with his parent’s gun, which left him emotionally damaged, experiencing violent blackouts. Lily is moved by the admission, but when her daughter is born, she decides to divorce Ryle.
The story ends with Lily taking the baby to Ryle for his appointed day with her. She bumps into Atlas on the street. They greet each other warmly, then part ways. But then, at the last moment, Lily decides to run down the street to Atlas and confess her desire to be with him.
Being in the similar situation myself I felt Lily’s emotional pain. When your in a relationship life is not black or white. In Lily’s words, “Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”
This book is going to stay with me for a long time.