Title – Without Merit
Author – Colleen Hoover
Publication Date – October 3, 2017
“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”
The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.
Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines, when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.
Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.
Poignant and powerful, Without Merit explores the layers of lies that tie a family together and the power of love and truth.
Colleen Hoover delivers a story unlike any she’s written before with her intriguing new novel, Without Merit. As expected, I was captivated from the very first page, however, what followed can only be described as entirely unexpected. Colleen Hoover blindsided me with this completely surprising storyline and I quickly found myself caught up in Merit’s totally twisted family dynamic. Without Merit isn’t steamy nor is it really even a romance. This book lacked the heart-wrenching angst and ugly cry inducing emotions I generally attribute to a Colleen Hoover novel. Instead, Without Merit is something new, raw, and strangely satisfying. Fans of this author will be shocked for sure, but if you dive into this story with an open mind you won’t be disappointed.
“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing a mistake deserves is forgiveness.”
Merit’s voice was quirky, unsure and totally different from any of Colleen’s previous heroines. She was strange and emotionally removed, spurring a need to get to know her that pushed me to keep reading. I desperately wanted to understand Merit and unravel her secrets. Over the course of the story, Colleen Hoover cultivated the character in a way that allowed the reader to excuse Merit’s somewhat disconcerting attitude and gave her the chance to tell her story on her own terms. Personally, I felt a little too much distance between the heroine and myself for the majority of the book. I prefer to connect to characters much more quickly in order to really appreciate the emotional aspect of their journey. It took a little too long for me to achieve that with Merit and this distance ultimately kept me from losing myself completely in this novel.
“You don’t get to decide what your life means to anyone else.”
As always with a Colleen Hoover novel, Without Merit touches upon some seriously tough subjects. The author isn’t afraid to dissect the traditional family, poke and prod at society’s ailments, and challenge what we know about love. The heady lessons to be learned throughout the pages of this book snuck up on me under the guise of Merit and Sagan’s developing relationship. I adored the subtle chemistry between the two characters and found hope in the strength they drew from one another. This duo kept me on my toes with their unusual connection, while the secondary characters helped contribute to my overall state of confusion and intrigue. Colleen Hoover’s unpredictable storyline ensured that I sat up and paid attention to everything this book had to say.
“Your emotion and reactions are valid, Merit. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. You’re the only one who feels them.”
While the plot, pacing, and voice may have been totally out of character for Colleen Hoover, the writing was certainly on point. Carefully constructed and decidedly imaginative, Without Merit captured Colleen Hoover’s mature and confident writing style. There was much to be explored beneath the surface of each sentence and I absolutely enjoyed the overall reading experience. Ripe with Colleen Hoover’s signature symbolism and poignant prose, Without Merit is therapeutic in an unexpected way. Through Merit’s eyes, the reader is able to identify their own emotional baggage, finding acceptance and an understated sort of healing in Merit’s unconventional personal journey.
Whoa. Let me start off by saying that w=Without Merit is so different from any of Colleen Hoover’s previously released books. Yet, it also has a very signature Hoover style in its poignancy and issue awareness. I can’t say I knew what to expect, and though I found the beginning chapters to be quite odd and eccentric, the story captivated me and absolutely blew me away.
“So many people dream of living in a house with a white picket fence. Little do they know, there’s no such thing as a perfect family, no matter how white the picket fence is.”
Merit is a teenage girl dealing with family situations that left her feeling vulnerable and alone. I loved the way Colleen Hoover didn’t blatantly point out signs; she subtly hinted at things going awry one by one. It wasn’t until Merit had to confront her life experiences and jolt her beliefs that she came out of her own self-centered (for lack of a better word) bubble. Once she did, the reader was able to see Hoover’s intention and I found it to be done absolutely beautifully. At the heart of this novel, it’s about this girl finding her way, finding her family, and discovering that nobody in this world is perfect. We all have our flaws and it felt good for me to personally be reminded of my own, particularly in the ways that I could relate to this character.
“Maybe that’s the root of a lot of family issues. It isn’t actually the issues people are hung up about for so long. It’s that no one has the courage to take the first step in talking about the issues.”
I’ve tried to keep my review vague because, like most of her novels, Colleen creates a riveting story that needs to just be experienced. Without Merit was so relevant to today’s society and warmed my heart on more than one occasion. It served as an excellent reminder for those of us struggling, while also delivering on some warm fuzzies. No matter what, this incredible lady has earned a faithful reader in me, but there was something definitely special about Without Merit. With a message so loud and personal, I’m sure I won’t be letting go of this book any time soon.
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Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, This Girl, Point of Retreat, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Ugly Love, Maybe Not, Confess, November 9, and It Ends with Us. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance twice – for Confess in 2015 and It Ends with Us in 2016. Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Colleen and her family founded The Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service offering signed novels donated by authors. All profits are given to various charities each month to help those in need. Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. Please visit ColleenHoover.com.