Life has been busy these last few years, and with the crazy that has taken over my life, my dedication to reading and reviewing books has fallen to the wayside. As I celebrated the new year, however, I decided — like many of us do — to make changes, and maybe the most important change I’m implementing is a return to my regular reading patterns of years gone by. My goal is to read at least one book each week and review them on this blog on Mondays. So with that in mind, let’s get started with what I have no doubt will be among my top five book picks for 2018…Without Merit by Colleen Hoover.
I should begin by saying I’m huge fan of Colleen Hoover’s work. I’ve read almost everything she’s written, and I’ve never been let down by her characters or her writing. She has this unique gift of pulling a reader in within the first few paragraphs, and keeping them reading until the last page is turned. Actually, quite a few authors do that and do so successfully, but what I find unique about Hoover is that it’s the characters that keep you reading and not necessarily the guesswork of a “whodunit” or the action of a fast-paced thriller. Hoover keeps her readers turning pages because her characters are so interesting and relatable, and I think she’s raised the bar even higher with Without Merit.
I don’t even know where to start to tell you about this book because I don’t want to ruin it for you. There’s just so much going on — none of which you realize is all connected — until you close in on the last several pages when everything comes together. So, without ruining it for you, this is what I’ll tell you.
Without Merit is about family. And secrets. And siblings. And a set of twins who are identical in appearance, but couldn’t be more different in personality and how they see the world.
Without Merit is about an “unusual” blended family. They live in an old church bought by the father out from under the former pastor of the church in a form of retribution. The father has cheated on the children’s mother with her nurse (while she was recuperating from cancer), his mistress gets pregnant, and he divorces his wife (named Victoria) to marry his mistress (also named Victoria) and moves the whole family into the former church, which becomes their home. And the former wife? Oh…she’s agoraphobic and lives in the basement. The family brings her meals to her every day…meals that the new wife prepares each night for the family.
Without Merit is about mental illnesss — depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, and probably a whole other range of illness that aren’t specifically identified. It’s about a strange hitchhiker in a kilt who ends up having a family relationship, and an orphan whose relationship with the individual family members is…not quite clear.
Without Merit is about an atheist with a gigantic Jesus statue in his living room, and an overprotective helicopter mom who can’t bring herself to explain death to her four year-old, so she tells him the dead are just sleeping and buried with a cell phone so they can call for help when they’re ready to “wake up” and be un-buried.
Without Merit is about all of these things and more, and while these things all seem completely unrelated as the story is told, they somehow all come together to make perfect sense by the time the reader turns the last page.
Probably more than anything, Without Merit is about love. It’s about the love of family, and the romantic love of couples; and it’s not only un-put-downable, but completely unforgettable. If you’re in a reading slump and having trouble finding something to pique your interest, this will probably be the book to pull you out of that funk.
For all of these reasons, Without Merit gets my first 5-star review of 2018.
Released October 3, 2017
by Atria Books
Synopsis taken from www.colleenhoover.com
“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.