Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover | Book Review

Reading Group: 16-years-old+

Synopses: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends With Us and November 9 comes a moving and haunting novel of family, love, and the power of the truth.

“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.

Cover: This book cover shows a destroyed piece of paper that someone has tried to fix by tying and pinning it back together.  This paper could represent the letter Merit wrote before she tried to kill herself and how once something is out in the world it's impossible to go back to the way it was before the information was known.  The interesting thing is that Merit's letter needed to be written in order for her family to start talking about things they had been avoiding for years.

My Review: To be completely honest with you, even though I've read and enjoyed Colleen Hoover's books before, there was something about the synopsis of this one that originally put me off, but I got it at work and decided to read it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was a lot better than I was expecting and it made me question why I thought otherwise.  Still, it's not my favorite Colleen Hoover novel.
This is kind of a coming of age story for Merit as she realizes that she is also part of the problems that her family has going on.  She spent years thinking that everything was out to get her, but in reality, she wasn't doing a whole lot to help herself out either.  So when two boys and a dog come into her life and shake it up a little bit, she's able to see things more clearly and learns how to give and receive forgiveness.  Something I really liked about this book was that it dealt with depression in a way that I had never really read before.  I liked that Merit didn't realize she could be suffering from depression because it felt more realistic.  I think a lot of people have had the "well it's normal for a teenager to have these weird thoughts sometimes" conversation with themselves.  And I agree that to an extent it is normal, but it's important to know when you've crossed the line between healthy and unhealthy.  Merit didn't notice until someone else points it out to her and even then she tries to deny it.  I liked how this was handled in the book because no one wants to believe they're depressed.
Absolutely no one in the Voss family is anywhere close to perfect and they certainly do not know how to handle each other at times.  I think a lot of people were upset with how the family handled things - especially Merit's attempted suicide - but there are families like this out there.  Families that downplay things and try and sweep their dirt under the rug so no one can see it.  That's why the boys' entrance into their lives were so important because they brought a new perspective and helped changes happen for the Voss family.    
This was not my favorite Colleen Hoover book, but I did enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would.

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