Without Merit, Colleen Hoover: Book Review

A romance novel that tackles mental illness.

without merit colleen hoover book reviewAtria / Stay Bookish
Without Merit Book Cover Without Merit
Colleen Hoover
Adult Fiction

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.

This review contains quotes from the book.

*Special thanks to Atria for allowing us to read Colleen Hoover’s Without Merit.

“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

-excerpt from Colleen Hoover’s Without Merit

Despite being totally out of the ordinary and unlike her other novels, Colleen Hoover has written one of her best works to date with Without Merit.

The Voss family is an interesting one, to say the least. They all live in a repurposed church, and the mother, who recently got healed from cancer, is now residing in the basement; and the father finds himself married to the nurse who cared for his ex-wife. The half-brother isn’t allowed to do anything remotely fun, while his older siblings seem to have it all together. But then there is Merit.

Merit’s hobbies include claiming trophies she did not win herself and keeping family secrets. One day she goes to her normal antique shop to find another trophy and meets Sagan. Sagan gives Merit’s life new meaning until she finds out that he is not available. This leads to Merit going suffering a deep depression and starts to exclude herself from participating in family outings and activities. Through this, Merit also comes to learn about a dark secret of her family and realizes she doesn’t want to keep them concealed anymore.

She decides to break this happy facade her family has fabricated, so she tells everyone about those hidden secrets and tries to run away from home. But she doesn’t succeed and now she has to deal the repercussions of her actions and with losing the boy she loved.

In a nutshell, this book seemed to be about more than just simple family drama; it is about a woman trying to figure out what is best for her and for her own mental health. There are also romantic elements to the story that I enjoyed as well. (Hoover never disappoints there!)

I recommend this to anyone who loves a romance novel with a darker element to it. Merit is an interesting protagonist because she shares all of her deep, dark thoughts and feelings with the reader and this is refreshing to me. It is refreshing because she doesn’t hold back from what she is feeling. This is one of Hoover’s most intimate books to date. Hoover is able to capture mental illness with grace. She does a great job with not sugar coating what it means to be depressed and to have dark thoughts. I want everyone I know to go out and buy this book because this is one of my favorite Hoover books that I have read so far.

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Jessica Duffield
the authorJessica Duffield
Contributing Writer
I am a junior in college. Books are my passion and I hope to work in book publishing once I graduate from journalism school.