From Colleen Hoover, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Starts with Us and It Ends with Us, 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.
In this surprisingly serious look at the experience and consequences of untreated mental illness, Merit Voss's eccentric family amplifies her typical teenage angst as she tries to shield herself with dismissive, defensive humor. Her bubbly twin sister, Honor, keeps falling in love with terminally ill boys. Her reclusive mother has not left the basement for years, and her preening stepmother (her mom's former oncology nurse) lives upstairs. The recent appearance of Sagan, a perfect example of a dreamy stranger, in the household awakens strong jealousy in Merit when she assumes he is Honor's boyfriend. Merit keeps repeating how much the town hates her family, but her depressive slide into dropping out of school does not allow any proof of social rejection. Finally fed up with her family's willful ignorance of her problems, she drunkenly pens a letter that exposes secrets, including an explanation for her chilly relationship with ambitious, chipper older brother Utah. When her suicide attempt is foiled, the whole family has to learn to cope with these revelations. The romantic thread between Merit and Sagan is flimsy but stays intact through to the end. Hoover relies a bit too much on pat conversations to resolve resentments, but her characters are lively and her honest approach to difficult issues makes this contemporary novel more solid than its fluffy feel suggests.
The heart, soul and feeling Colleen Hoover is able to bring to life through words on a page is incredible. The stories she writes and the lives she creates within them are able to touch your heart and bring you an entirely new outlook on the world.