Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
Standalone YA Novel
“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.
Colleen Hoover has been a favorite of mine since she released Slammed. She was one of the reasons I started my blog, to share books like hers. In fact, she came to the very first Wicked Book Weekend back in the beginning of 2013! Every single book of hers has been amazing. She never follows the trends and always brings us a unique, emotional story. Without Merit is no exception. This young adult novel isn’t an epic romance like we are used to from Colleen, though there is a budding romance, it more of a journey of one of the quirkiest families I have ever read about. Without Merit is weird. It’s odd. It’s idiosyncratic, and it totally brought me out of the funk I was having from too many similar books.
“It’s like we don’t even have parents. We have a mother living in our basement and a father living in his own world. No one has a clue what’s going on with anyone around here.”
Merit’s family lives in a converted church in a small town in Texas. They are an odd bunch, Merit is a high school senior and has a twin sister, Honor, and an older brother who changes the church marquis daily to another quirky fact. Their mom lives in the basement and doesn’t come out. Their stepmom has the same name as the mom, and really only tries to mother Merit’s little half brother.
“No one in this family notices my presence or my absence. They would all notice Honor’s. But I was born second, which just makes me a faded copy of the original.”
Merit’s quirky obsession is to collect other people’s trophies, especially on bad days; the weirder the trophy, the better. While cutting school and pursuing the local antiques store for a trophy, she runs into Sagan. And that encounter changes her. Especially when she realizes that the guy she thought she shared something special with had the situation wrong.
“You bury me.”
This summer, I visited Sulphur Springs, TX., to go to the BookWorm Box (Colleen’s charity bookstore), and we went to lunch in another corner of town, so we got to see a bit of the town, and I’m so glad we did! I wish I read the book before, and I would have looked closer at the places represented in the book, but here are a couple of photos I took. I’m so glad I was able to picture the real town in my head, and I must say, I loved the surprise cameo!
So many secrets in this house. And yet, the one secret I should have told years ago is the one I’ve kept the quietest.
There was such a slow build in this story, with layers and layers of secrets and lies, and everyone looking at these with different eyes and different interpretations of the truth. But there are only so many secrets a young girl can keep.
Two new houseguests opened their eyes and changed their perspective on everything.
“I used to feel like I was on top of the world. Then one day, I noticed that it felt like I was no longer on top of the world. I was just floating around inside of it. And then eventually, it felt like the world was on top of me.”
There was something so ingenious and cunning about the way Colleen manipulated you into seeing things one way until you realize that’s not the way it is at all. It was so easy to judge without all the facts. It was a strong message delivered in a very subtle and very quirky way.
“For so long I’ve been resenting my family for not hugging me when maybe they’ve been resenting me for the same thing.”
Without Merit is a very relevant book for teens and adults alike, but I think teens may really see themselves in Merit. While there is a romance that runs through the book, I am not sure that I would call this a romance novel, because Merit needed to love herself before she could love someone else.
- Completely odd and quirky.
- Made you look at things differently.
- Very relevant, especially for teens, but adults will love it too.
- A slow build.
- The cameo appearance.
- Cleverly filled with secrets and easter eggs. You really need to pay attention to not miss some subtle details.
- Very rich in detail, I was able to picture every scene perfectly.
- Funny, sad, strange, frightening at times and hopeful.
- I would have liked the ending extended a bit, I just felt like it needed a little more of a glimpse into the future.
- While I liked Merit, I never 100% fell in love with her, and I’m not sure I was supposed to.
The Down & Dirty:
Without Merit was one of the quirkiest books I ever read. This YA novel was completely unique and a bit odd, but it forces you to look at things from different perspectives. I gobbled this book down over two days and was completely engrossed in the story that was anything but predictable. It’s not quite a romance, but it is so different that I don’t think I could classify it in any genre, but I guess it’s all in how YOU look at it. I loved all the fun and quirky oddities, I loved the way it made me think, I love that I have been to the town, and I love that it was so different it zapped me out of my funk. Without Merit may be different, but it’s another winner from the genius known as CoHo.
Rating: 4.5-5 stars No heat.
Purchase Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing a mistake deserves is forgiveness.
Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, This Girl, Point of Retreat, Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Maybe Someday, Ugly Love, Maybe Not, Confess, November 9, and It Ends with Us. She has won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance twice – for Confess in 2015 and It Ends with Us in 2016. 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. Please visit ColleenHoover.com.
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