Without Merit Review: Depression is Not Always Obvious

November 20, 2017 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Without Merit Review: Depression is Not Always ObviousWithout Merit by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria, Simon and Schuster Australia on October 3, 2017
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
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A moving and haunting story of family, love and the power of truth, by international bestselling author 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, the once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, 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. Then she meets 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.

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.

This book follows Merit, a girl with depression and anxiety but she doesn’t know she has it. She constantly stresses about the secrets and the lies from her quirky family who lives in a church, and takes the weight of everything on board her shoulders.

The start of the book definitely pulled me in, when a random guy kisses her and she finds out it’s her twin sisters boyfriend. That sparks a chain of events where she’s interested in him, but resents her sister for being with someone she is attracted to.

This isn’t the only relationship in her family that’s strained however, there’s a lot of quirky family history that has lead them to live in a church with her dads current and ex-wife under the same roof. It was fascinating finding out what the circumstances were one by one, and the secrets everyone kept from each other.

“I’ve found out that depression doesn’t necessarily mean a person is miserable or suicidal all the time. Indifference is also a sign of depression.”

The family members were definitely a group of interesting people and it was interesting seeing what motivated them, from her mum who suffers from agoraphobia, to her OCD brother and twin sister who likes to date guys with terminal illnesses. Then there’s Luck who is the strangest character I’ve ever met in a book, he eats string, asks invasive questions, has a variety of accents due to working on a cruise ship and wears kilts, pink scrubs or whatever he feels like on the day. It’s not a surprise that Merit is struggling to come to terms with her family’s decision making but she seems to be the only one who openly has a problem with it.

While I did find Without Merit to be enjoyable, there were some completely cringeworthy scenes that had me rolling my eyes. In one scene, Merit dresses up like her twin sister and somehow ends up kissing Sagan, her boyfriend. Then there’s the whole attraction with him despite the fact. The manufactured scenes between them just felt really forced and I wasn’t satisfied with the explanation for the kiss at the start of the book. I also felt like he was a pretty bland character (which isn’t hard) in comparison to the rest of the family.

In all fairness, Merit. I’ve lived here less than a week and I can already tell you live in your own version of reality.

Without Merit sends an important message that “it’s all about perspective”. To you, you may see that things are terrible and that other people seem to be perfect, not suffering as much as you do. But there’s never a standard that you should hold yourself to, because there’s no such thing as perfect.

The other message is that even though others may be suffering in a different way, or over things that may seem worse than yours, your feelings are valid. Your stressors should not be compared to anyone else and that you are okay to feel that way. Recognising the signs when it gets too much is important for mental health.

Without Merit is a very different read to what I’ve come to expect from Colleen Hoover, but it definitely held an important message. The family is really fascinating as well as well Merits journey coming to terms with depression and that her mental health isn’t the best. I found this journey to be really realistic and haven’t read about depression in that sense before. However, some of the cheesier moments of the book had me rolling my eyes, in particular the romance and the perfect guy.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thanks Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy of the book via Netgalley.

Without Merit is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$24.99. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Tiktok@happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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