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.
Before reading Without Merit, I kept hearing about how different it was compared to Colleen Hoover’s previous novels. Now while that statement is true, what does remain in Without Merit is Hoover’s amazing ability to draw a reader in and keep them hooked until the very end. With each release I find that Hoover is becoming braver with her writing. In Without Merit, Hoover tackles yet another difficult topic but she does so in a way that respects the topic at hand, and the people impacted by it. I don’t want to give anything away, I know that some readers will prefer having some sort of trigger warning attached to this novel, but I’ve personally always appreciated the impact Hoover’s stories provide when going in blind.
Merit wasn’t an easy character to like. She’s frustrating and stubborn and for the first half of this book I really had no clue as to where her story was going. The characters were all so intriguing and different that you couldn’t help but be drawn into their world. The first half of the book provides you with a lot of information about each character, but while receiving that information it only causes you to have more and more questions. In Without Merit, there was a romantic aspect to the story but it didn’t play as big of a role as romance does in Hoover’s previous novels. This book is really about perspective. During the first half of the book you get to see things from Merit’s perspective but as things unfold she starts to see that there may be more to the story than she initially thought. That was definitely my favourite thing about Without Merit, it shows that sometimes you may not see the whole picture and that your perspective can be biased.
I absolutely adored this book. Colleen Hoover’s writing was beautiful and addictive as usual, and I know that readers are going to have a difficult time putting this book down. Like in previous novels she does include the use of other forms of art which I have really come to enjoy in her work, it provides the story with another layer. Hoover has an amazing way with words and she has the power to evoke so much feeling and emotion from her readers. With the release of Without Merit and her last release It Ends With Us, she is not only using her writing to make readers feel something, but to also think and talk about these difficult topics and issues. She doesn’t shy away from the not so perfect and pretty parts of life, and I think that’s what makes her stories so impactful and relatable.