The first book I ever read by Colleen Hoover was Ugly Love. I was six months pregnant and ugly cried so hard I put the Kardashian’s to shame. A book hadn’t affected me that deeply in a very long time, and when I finished it, I wanted to get my hands on every book published by Colleen. Since that lone Saturday afternoon, I’ve read all but three of her books (as I write this the Slammed trilogy stares mockingly at me from my shelves) and while I haven’t loved everything she’s written I’ve loved enough to highly anticipate her next release.
Without Merit is told from the viewpoint of Merit. Merit’s family seems put together enough on the outside, but secrets and lies are slowly breaking them apart.
“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.”
In the beginning, I really struggled with these characters. I had a rough time relating to them, and I found them all to be highly unlikeable. The atmosphere of the book was heavy and the tension was thick among the pages. However, as I continued to read, I realized again the utter brilliance of Colleen Hoover. Using her words, and descriptions, she created this tone throughout the pages of the book that not only immersed the reader in the story, but also in the emotions of the characters. We weren’t meant to fall in love with the Voss family, and to see them as a shining example of the perfect family life. Hoover wanted us to see the ugliness within the walls of this home, and feel the fissures and cracks created by one secret after another.
The character development in Without Merit, was pivotal in creating a deeply interconnected web of secrets, but also lead to a story of hope. The story is told through the voice of Merit. For years, Merit has felt like a stranger among her family. Constantly overshadowed by her brother and twin sister, Merit struggles to find her footing in life, and falls into a downward spiral as she’s continually burdened with these feelings of inadequacy. Merit is one of the most honest characters I’ve ever read, and when she was hurting, I hurt. I was incredibly invested in seeing this story through and in helping Merit heal. I wanted to see her family heal.
“I think we all just got to a point where we were waiting for someone else to initiate it, but no one ever did. 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.”
Without Merit deals with some serious issues, but Colleen Hoover does it in such a way that the reader leaves the story with a feeling of hope and love. This story has stayed with me for days now, and these characters have burrowed into my very soul. Without Merit is definitely worth picking up, and taking the time to read.