REVIEW – WITHOUT MERIT by Colleen Hoover


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.


*****Patty’s Review*****

*****FOUR STARS*****
{ARC Generously Provided by ATRIA Books}

No one would be able to determine from the outside of our house that our family of seven includes an atheist, a home wrecker, an ex-wife suffering from a severe case of agoraphobia, and a teenage girl whose weird obsession borders on necrophilia.



Merit Voss is a seventeen-year-old girl who not only has to deal with the normal teenage angst most kids go through, but add on her strained relationships with her very eccentric family. She seems to think that everyone else in her family has major issues but doesn’t necessarily notice that she too has some odd eccentricities. Merit collects trophies from garage sales and thrift shops. Whenever she is in need of a “pick me up”, she goes in search of a new trophy to add to her collection. Her family’s home used to be the town’s church. Her father hated the Pastor’s barking dog so much that he found a way to buy the church when the Pastor was not able to keep up with the mortgage payments. Now the entire Voss family lives in the semi-renovated church which still has the huge statue of Jesus on the cross in what they have turned into the family room. Merit’s dad ended up having an affair years ago when her mother was sick which later resulted in her parent’s divorce and her dad’s remarriage to the woman he ended knocking up. What’s bizarre is that her mother lives in the basement apartment of the church since she became severely agoraphobic.

Merit has decided to stop going to school and it seems as though the whole family is so wrapped up in their own lives that no one really notices what Merit has done. During one outing to a thrift shop she notices a cute guy checking her out and then somehow while she is leaving the store, the guy ends up kissing her. This is a monumental kiss that she feels zinging through her from her head to her toes, but then as if fate is messing with her, he ends up being her twin sister’s boyfriend. Merit is completely distraught over the fact that there is something her twin sister, Honor, has that she is finally envious of. The twins are nothing alike. While Honor is carefree and popular at school, Merit is more of a loner, quiet, and barely has any friends.

When Sagan, Honor’s boyfriend, starts showing up for dinner every night at the Voss’s, Merit is beside herself. She does everything in her power to keep her distance and to have as little interaction with Sagan as possible. Merit later meets a very odd man, named Luck, while shopping at the local supermarket and decides to give him a lift to his sister’s home. Turns out Luck’s sister is Merit’s step-mom, Victoria. It takes no time for Luck to fit right in since he’s as peculiar as the rest of the family members.

When Merit stumbles across some pretty huge and disturbing family secrets and then is forced by Sagan to see some of her own transgressions, she goes down a path of destruction and decides to call her entire family out on all of their secrets. Will uncovering all of the Voss family secrets tear them apart or heal all the wounds from the past?

Will a romance between Merit and Sagan be able to thrive or will Merit’s inability to acknowledge that she is drowning emotionally keep these two from finding happiness together. Merit will learn that things are not always what it seems on the surface and that she may have been too quick to cast judgment.

WITHOUT MERIT is currently available!

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*****Mel’s Review*****

4 “You Bury Me” Stars!

-“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing a mistake deserves is forgiveness.”



Merit Voss is a 17 yr. old senior in high school. She lives in a small town in Texas, in the middle of nowhere. She lives with her large unconventional, dysfunctional, unusual family, & often feels insignificant in her household, and almost invisible. She’s grown apart from her siblings, & lives in a home of secrets & lies. With so many strained relationships, she doesn’t feel like she belongs, or fits in anywhere. She thinks everyone hates her, & constantly feels like her family is falling apart. They’re screwed up & all have issues.

Merit’s family has a bad reputation in town, but she prides herself on being spontaneous, & doesn’t often think of consequences. She has a strange habit of collecting random trophies, & while out one day locks eyes with a random guy. Something about the way he looks at her makes her feel things she’s never felt before. There’s this electric connection between them, & she’s intrigued by him. His intensity catches her off guard & excites her. They share a kiss that completely rocks her world, & she can’t stop thinking about him, & wondering if he’s meant for her. When he unexpectedly pops back up in her life things get complicated as her two worlds collide.


-I can’t think of a single instance where I’ve ever been looked at like he’s looking at me right now. Like I fascinate him.

-The second he kissed me I was a goner.

-I wanted it all. I wanted to feel everything. That unexpected kiss made me feel alive.

-I feel the weight of my attraction to him. It’s so heavy, it feels like an anchor wanting to pull me under the water.


This was a thought-provoking book that has romance but is mainly about the life & family dynamic of Merit. It deals with love, forgiveness & some serious subject matter. It is a reminder that we live in a society where our peers put pressure on us, but often nobody judges us as harshly as we do ourselves. Nobody is perfect, & everyone has their own problems. This book really makes you think about what’s right & wrong, and not judging others since you haven’t walked in their shoes. It also reminds us how important communication is with the ones we love.


*****Dee’s Review*****


Without Merit is a compelling story about love, family and the hardships of being a teenager. A book I think would be great to read and discuss with family or in a book club.



Merit Voss is seventeen and her life has never been easy. Her family situation is very unconventional and sometimes hard to be part of. Merit is angry and her heart feels heavy because if full of heavy secrets. But one day in the middle of the town’s square the eyes and the presence of a boy will make her feel light and happy for the first time in a long time.

Merit will learn a lot about herself through the life experiences of her parents, siblings and even strangers. Through pain and also laughter she will begin to recognize all the problems that surround her and also that there are also solutions.

In the end, one thing will be certain, and that is that family is forever and you can lose just about everything in life but one thing, hope.

Coming from a large and very dysfunctional family I was able to relate and even find comfort in this story. Colleen Hoover has the beautiful ability to create stories that reach deep inside your heart, stories that truly matter. Just like Merit, my heart felt lighter after I was done reading. Beautiful story!

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