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.
Audible Audio, Unabridged, 9 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Simon & Schuster Audio
Five stars: A book that tackles a heap of issues with the most dysfunctional family ever. This book will make you laugh and cry.
Merit is fed up with school. She is tired of being invisible, disgusted with her messed up family, and just sick of everything in general. She figures a trip to the store to buy a trophy will cheer her up. While at the store, Merit runs into a handsome, young stranger, who seems to be into her. Then he follows her outside and gives her the most amazing kiss ever near the fountain. During the kiss his phone rings, and he is suddenly confused. It is just Merit’s luck to find out that this hot boy is her sister’s boyfriend, who mistakenly took her for her twin sister, Honor. She flees to her house, only to find more chaos and confusion at home with her messed up, dysfunctional family. Would they even notice if she wasn’t around anymore?
What I Liked:
- Without Merit is one of those reads that I think will polarize readers. This is a book that takes on a whole bunch of issues such as depression, suicide, sexual identity, mental illness, infidelity and more. However, unlike Ms. Hoover’s previous books, this one is done with so much humor. She knows how to put the “d” in dysfunctional. If you have a sense of humor, this book will appeal to you. I loved that it made me laugh and cry, and that it featured some of the most unforgettable characters ever.
- The characters are phenomenal. I loved how eccentric and quirky they are. Merit, the protagonist, is depressed and on the verge of a break down. She is the family’s secret keeper, and she has had enough. She has a strange affinity for collecting other people’s cast off trophies. She also has a unique sense of humor, I giggled when she dressed up the church statue of Jesus. Merit has the strangest family ever. I won’t go into all the details because this review will be far too long, but let’s just say each member has some strange issues. You really have to meet them all for yourself.
- Perhaps not everyone will appreciate the way CoHo tackles the big issues, but I for one, liked that she didn’t focus on all the drama and angst. Instead she takes a lighter approach and adds in plenty of humor. I liked that the book was real and honest and that it was all about a family dealing with its problems. I especially liked how realistic it was that the family was afraid to sit down and talk out their emotions and problems. Instead they were all about sweeping things under the rug and avoidance, because I think more often than not, that is the way of families. However, the family finally has a break through, and I liked the way they finally started working through their problems.
- What made this book for me was the humor. CoHo isn’t always known for her humor. Her books usually are dramatic and tearful. This one had me snickering out loud so many times. I loved that it was more casual.
- The romance is more of a side story. It was sweet and wonderful, but I especially appreciated that it was a friendship before it moved further. I loved the way the male romantic lead handled everything. He refused to enter into a relationship until she learned to love herself. Loved that!
- The ending was a bit open, but after all the dust settled, things were in a better place for everyone. I liked that it ended on a hopeful note.
- I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Candace Thaxton. Ms. Thaxton nailed Merit’s character. Loved the narration!
And The Not So Much:
- The ending was too abrupt. I wanted more. I was hoping for an Epilogue to see the family down the road because I would like to know if they were doing better. I especially didn’t like that the whole thing with Sagan’s family was left undone.
- I was bothered by the whole living situation with Sagan, I wish there was a bit more explaining done. It just felt too glossed over for me.
- Not every issue is handled with kid gloves, and I know some people may not be pleased with how certain things play out. However, it is nice to get something different that isn’t so dramatic.
- I didn’t like the whole thing with the dog. It wasn’t exactly believable.
Without Merit was an outstanding read. I liked that this one took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting all the humor. This is a departure from the normal CoHo read as it is lighter and more humorous, but still packed with the tough stuff. I couldn’t get enough of this quirky, dysfunctional family. Keep an open mind when reading this one and just enjoy the ride.
I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.