Book Review: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

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“Tuqburni is used to describe the all-encompassing feeling of not being able to live without someone. Which is why the literal translation is, ‘You bury me.” 

To read this review means to miss a chance to read this book with open heart and clear thoughts, without assumption and prejudice, without outside opinions hovering over you. If you want to experience the story entirely blind, please, be armed with my approval and applause. Just go for it, and I will hold your hand through all the story. Why am I so insistent you don’t read any review? Because it was a rare experience for me to know nothing about the author – except for the perfect testimonies – and nothing about the story. I even didn’t read the synopsis. I obeyed the river of trust to my favorite book bloggers and followed this flow. I’ve never regretted this choice.

Every attempt to read reviews without the spoilers yet can spoil the moment of satisfaction. Without Merit is perfect, what can I say. From now on and forever I’m the fan of Colleen Hoover’s works, and I’ll give a shot to every her book in a while. If they are as good as this one, then it’ll be my happiest time.

“It annoys me when people try to convince other people that their anger or stress isn’t warranted if someone else in the world is worse off than them. It’s bullshit. Your emotions and reactions are valid, Merit. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. You’re the only one who feels them.” 

The story is as penetrating. All the tension that accumulates around one family and a protagonist, Merit, who copes with all the secrets family members keep, trigger to frank confessions and almost ends up with tragedy. First, I was very into Merit’s point of view. Everyone was unfair to her; it felt like the teenager lives through her most terrible times of family indifference with the overall desire to shirk the truth and hide inside their shells. I felt heartbroken every time I read how destructive was the relationship in the family. I saw her depression and wanted to shout at Merit’s kinfolk in despair: How can you not see her suffering? It was so obvious. But another’s point of view is the most unobvious thing.

“I think we all just got to a point where we were waiting for someone else to initiate it, but no one ever did. Maybe that’s the root of a lot of family issues. It isn’t actually the issues people are hung up about for so long. It’s that no one has the courage to take the first step in talking about the issues.” 

I guess when it feels like the world is against you, try to switch the places and wear the world’s boots for a moment. It was necessary for Merit (and for me as a reader) to see her grievances from another angle. I liked to watch Merit falling into Sagan and his impact on her. In this house of chaos, he is the only person who understands everything and everyone and tries to push family together through the Merit’s feelings. Though it’s not a romance novel and the author brings awareness to the mental problems, depression, suicide, their affection was a sweet surrender from the very first chapter. It helped the author keep the light while forming a vital message to every parent and teenager.

“Having depression is no more out of your control than Sagan’s intolerance to milk, or Utah’s pale skin, or Honor’s bad vision. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. But it’s not something you can ignore or correct on your own. And it doesn’t make you abnormal. It makes you just as normal as these idiots,” he says, waving toward everyone else.” 

I couldn’t help but notice in between the lines how author slightly gives us one more message to ponder over. The Voss family lives in the church, and though I’m not a very religious person, I spied one thing. I mean it is queer that the Voss family manages to break some of the Ten Commandments under the God’s roof like:

  1. You shall make no idols (giant Christ in the house and his transformation into Cheesus Christ. It’s funny though. Sorry, God.); 
  2. Honor your father and mother (parents lost respect in the kids’ eyes);
  3. You shall not commit adultery (father constantly betrays his wives. Oh, stop. Father has wiveS!);
  4. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (feud between father and the pastor);
  5. You shall not covet (Merit and Honor are twins, but they still envy each other. And another example, this Commandment describes the way father got the house (church) from the pastor.);
  6. You shall not murder (Merit’s attempt to commit suicide) after all.

But it all ends eventually with forgiveness. Isn’t the forgiveness the way the God absolve you of all your sins?

“We’re all a degree of fucked-up.”

And of course, as the message settled firmly in my head, I want to believe it won’t miss you as you read the book. I want to sum up that in any possible way if you feel angst, anxiety, despair, apathy or any other signs of depression, I BEG YOU, PLEASE, don’t deal with it alone. Because you are NOT ALONE. Because there are billions of people, who love you and want to help you. Because you are definitely somebody’s something. Because no matter how far you are now I’m with you. Because every creature is perfect and unique and so are you. 

Don’t be indifferent to the people who struggle with depression. They need your attention and help! And don’t be inhuman. Love and kindness is the only way to survive.

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