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Without Merit: A Novel Paperback – October 3, 2017
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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“Emotionally wrenching and utterly original, Without Merit’s characters stayed with me long after I finished.” (Sara Shepard, New York Times bestselling author of the Pretty Little Liars series)
“Honest, funny, and heart wrenching, all spun together perfectly. I couldn't put it down.” (Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the After series)
“Hoover does an excellent job of revealing the subtle differences between healthy teenage rebellion and clinical depression… This quirky, complex, and frustrating heroine will win hearts and challenge assumptions about family dysfunction and mental illness in a life-affirming story that redefines what's normal.” (Kirkus (starred review))
"Merit is complex and charming as she struggles with depression, and Hoover shines here as she reveals hope glowing within a house of dysfunction." (Booklist (5-star review))
"Hoover has captured the insecurities that make us human in this unforgettable novel. . . A captivating and poignant story delving into the complexities of living in a house filled with turmoil, secrets, and mental illness, and the vulnerability it takes to lean on those we love in times of need." (RT Book Reviews)
Praise for Colleen Hoover:
Hoover joins the ranks of such luminaries as Jennifer Weiner and Jojo Moyes, with a dash of Gillian Flynn. Sure to please a plethora of readers. (Library Journal (starred review))
November 9 is yet another breathtaking novel by Colleen Hoover that's full of blushing, gushing, and heartache. I loved every page and breathed in every beautiful word. (Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author of the After series)
If you haven't read November 9 yet, then, apologies to your busy schedule, but you're going to have to put everything down and spend the next day devouring it. (RT Book Reviews, Seal of Excellence Winner)
Colleen Hoover’s one-of-a-kind style of storytelling shines with November 9... I dare you not to fall in love with Ben and Fallon. (Vilma's Book Blog)
Colleen Hoover reminds readers that love is a fragile thing, built from courage, hope, and tears. Every person with a heartbeat should read this book. (Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author)
About the Author
Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, Point of Retreat, This Girl, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Maybe Not, Ugly Love, Confess, November 9, It Ends with Us, and Without Merit. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance three years in a row—for Confess (2015), It Ends with Us (2016), and Without Merit (2017). Confess was adapted into a seven-episode online series. In 2015, Colleen and her family founded The Bookworm Box, a bookstore and monthly subscription service offering signed novels donated by authors. All profits are given to various charities each month to help those in need. Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. Visit ColleenHoover.com.
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-reference to Syrian refugee crisis
There’s no question that Hoover has a talent for writing, I just don’t get the hype if I’m being honest. I enjoyed two of her books (It Ends With Us and Hopeless) and I LOVED the Never Never series (co written with Tarryn Fisher) (side side note: after reading a book solely written by Fisher, I think I’m more of a Fisher fan than a CoHo fan 🤭)
But still: I don’t see what the big deal is with this author. She’s talented sure, but it’s nothing memorable.
Here’s why I had issues with this book (it’s about to get spoiler-y)
-Hoover tries to tackle SEVERAL serious issues in her novel (which is important) but she does not do a good job with ANY of them. I think Hoover tried to take on too much with this novel, and she wasn’t able to give these issues the care and respect they deserve.
-the BIGGEST issue for me- Utah. Or how he was portrayed, at least. We already know Merit has a bad relationship with her brother, but we don’t know why. Fast forward: we find out Utah is gay. That scene bothered me because his homosexuality was used for shock value. Hoover wanted her readers to be surprised. As a straight woman, she should not be using LGBT+ characters as plot twists.
-It gets worse: IMMEDIATELY after we find out Utah is gay, Merit reveals that Utah had sexually assaulted her in their youth. Yup. Before we get over the “shock” of him being gay, we also find out that he’s a sexual predator.
-I find it DISTURBING that NO ONE thought this was an issue. With all the harmful DANGEROUS stereotypes surrounding the LGBTQ+ community, this should not have been overlooked. IT IS NOT OKAY TO CREATE A GAY CHARACTER WHO IS ALSO A SEXUAL PREDATOR.
-if someone who is homophobic is reading this book, it’s just validating their harmful beliefs. More importantly, if someone in the LGBTQ+ community reads this book.... how do you think they would feel? Being portrayed as the villain again. We all know what harmful stereotypes are going around about this marginalized group, and this book is just a slap in the face. What makes it worse is that Hoover has SUCH a large fan base. She needs to be more responsible with what she writes.
-EVEN WORSE: his excuse for sexually assaulting his sister? Basically he wanted to “turn himself straight.” So the sexual assault and his homosexuality has a direct link, which is APPALLING. HOW did NO ONE catch this???!!
-there were also bi/panphobic moments. Luck was CLEARLY bi or pan sexual but OF COUSE “he doesn’t like to label it.” bi sexuality exists. You can say a character is bi sexual. Nothing bad will happen. I promise.
-Mental illness: Merit was depressed and made a suicide attempt “out of the blue” she then brushes it off saying she did it “because she’s a teenager”
-suicide is a SERIOUS issue. This book marketed as YA/NA so young readers will be reading this. Imagine having suicidal thoughts as a teen and thinking it’s fine because the noon you read said, “that’s just how teenagers are.” That’s basically what Merit was saying. This boon should NOT fall into the hands of teens who have or may have mental illnesses or suicidal thoughts. Merit continues to brush off the attempt as “no big deal.” It is a big deal
-do people make suicide attempts out of the blue? Sure. Maybe. I’m not an expert. This portrayal of suicide was not done tastefully or respectfully. It seemed careless. Again, with a fan base so large, Hoover needs to be more careful. Especially if she’s marketing as a YA/NA author
-Merit’s mother also had a mental illness and I can totally understand how her children would resent her. I get that. I’ve lived with someone who had severe mental disorders and it is not easy. So I do get their reactions. To an extent However: to portray this character as a villain is STILL not okay. Hoover could have found a way to show the children’s struggle with a mentally ill mother while not portraying the mother as a villain. Granted, the kids did not know the full story behind her illness.... this paragraph sounds like a mess because the whole situation was just that: a mess
-Syrian refugee crisis: I don’t want to get to much into this one because I admittedly am not an expert on this topic. But it felt like Hoover added that in their just to add it in. Like she got brownie points for including this crisis. It also was not resolved at all so there really was no reason to include it. Bad rep is worse than no rep. This felt like tokenism
-there were other issues I had with the story/characters but I just wanted to list the really important stuff
Overall: this story tried to tackle too much and was poorly executed. There are dangerous stereotypes being fed and the representation isn’t the greatest. It was careless, thoughtless, and it felt like she was checking off a boxes on her marginalization list. She needs to do better when dealing with marginalized characters.
PLEASE NOTE: this is NOT an attack on anyone who read and enjoyed this book, nor is it an attack on Colleen. Truth be told: I’ll probably read another one of her books because I have FOMO 🤷🏻♀️
This book missed the mark completely. And it can be seriously damaging to readers in the LGBTQ+ community and/or readers with suicidal thoughts/depression