Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
Published October 3rd, 2017 by Atria Books
Genres Young Adult, Romance
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.
“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”
Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite authors and I have yet to be disappointed when reading anything she writes. She has such a creative mind and the stories and characters she develops I always find to be amazing. This book is more in the genre of young adult, where some of her books are more in genre of new adult.
Our main character Merit comes from a slightly dysfunctional family, the Voss’s, who actually live in a re-purposed church that they have named Dollar Voss, because it is divided up into four quarters. Merit has an identical twin sister, Honor, an older brother Utah and a younger half-brother Moby. We learn in the very beginning of the book that the family has some strange dynamics; Merit’s mother, who suffers from severe agoraphobia lives in the basement, while Merit’s father and her step-mother Victoria, also her mother’s former nurse, live on the main floor with Merit and her siblings. Honor and Utah are very close and seemingly perfect and Merit seems to be the odd one out. We also learn at the beginning of the book that Merit has dropped out of high school and no one in her family really seems to notice or care. While browsing an antique store one day she meets Sagan, who she is instantly drawn to, only to find out that he is not available. I don’t want to give any spoilers but she finds herself around him quite often which becomes quite difficult for her.
As we get further into the book, more of the faimly’s issues and secrets begin to surface, some of which Merit has been holding on to for a very long time. She gets to a point where she finds herself completely overwhelmed with everything going on in her family and all the secrets she has been forced to keep. Without any spoilers, she tries to remedy this situation with her family, but it ends up not going the way she wants and she ends up in a place she never thought she would be. This book deals with a lot of issues including everything that is going on in her family and mental illness. I am always slightly hesitant to read fiction books about mental illness because it is very rare that an author can write about these illnesses in an accurate manner. And honestly, it just usually ends up frustrating me when they are not properly portrayed. The author did a great job in accurately portraying and discussing mental illnesses such as agoraphobia and depression.
The other thing I really liked about this book and this is small spoiler, but the book is set in Texas and at one point Sagan and Merit visit a bookstore. And as I was reading it and the description, I realized it was Colleen Hoover’s bookstore and home of The Bookworm Box. And I am also fairly certain that the women in the bookstore is supposed to be Colleen herself, which I thought was really creative and funny. Once again, a very well written book by one of my very favorite authors.