Without Merit – Colleen Hoover

wihtout merit

5 star
Genre: Contemporary

Publisher: Atria Books

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends With Usand 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.

After immediately finishing Without Merit I thought it was going to be the first Colleen Hoover book I rated fewer than five stars, but upon reflection and discussion with my boyfriend I realized how much I enjoyed it and what it was trying to accomplish.

Without Merit follows Merit as she attempts to navigate the minefield of secrets that her family is while also trying to discover who she is as an individual. Without Merit is a snapshot of Merit’s life. There is a lot of context Hoover has to catch the reader up on, but it never felt like an info dump. Merit as a character has an interesting voice. She’s funny, a little morbid, and real. This combination adds a little lightness to an otherwise bleak story.

Without Merit is very different from Hoover’s typical choice of story. The only comparison that can be made is that it’s similar in theme to It Ends With Us, but without the romance heavy plot. There is a bit of romance in Without Merit, but it’s very minor because its primary focus is on Merit and her growing discontent with her life and family. The story builds up until everything comes to a head and Merit shatters the illusion her family has carefully crafted. They’re all forced to see each other and all their flaws and find a way to forgive.

As I mentioned previously, Without Merit is very much a snapshot of Merit’s life and this snapshot is what makes the story so successful. Seeing a glimpse into the family’s discord, their fallout, and aftermath isn’t an easy task to accomplish. Hoover’s writing is flawless as she navigates each of the characters’ personalities and complexities with ease.

Overall, I would recommend readers to dive into this novel blind and experience Merit and her life without expectations.

I included the trigger warnings down here because some of them are spoilery.


Trigger warning: depression, anxiety, suicide


4 thoughts on “Without Merit – Colleen Hoover

  1. Wow!! I honestly had no idea what Without Merit was all about. I expected something emotional because that’s just her style, but still didn’t expect all those triggers. I still have it on my tbr and hopefully I’ll start it soon. Awesome review!!

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