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.
Without Merit brought out all the feels, and it also explained the DYS when it comes to dysfunctional families and relationships. I loved every word!
Merit, the main character, is fairly self-absorbed, and still, I really loved her. Growing up in a household with three children with less than a year between them (total). And an identical twin sister whom she doesn’t really get along with, Merit lives inside her own head quite a bit. Between the resentment she feels towards her family, and the weirdness she feels about school, she throws herself a curve-ball and then tries to just go with it.
There is a lot going on in Without Merit, and most of it has to do with the extremely complex family relationships, and all the secrets that they keep. It makes things more difficult for Merit that she feels like an outcast in town, and in school. All because of her dad, and the decisions he has made that led up to them moving into an old church.
Merit is 17 years old, and she’s not very self-aware. And at the same time, she’s not all that aware when it comes to the rest of the world, either. She does have her own preconceived thoughts and judgements about her family and other people living in the same house as her, though.
Honor is Merit’s identical twin, and at the surface, she seems very different from her. Honor has a thing for boys with terminal illnesses, and Merit judges her quite harshly for this.
Barnaby is Merit’s father, and she hates him with a passion. She feels as if he doesn’t care about anyone but himself – he divorced her mother, Victoria, when his mistress (also Victoria) was three months pregnant… And to add insult to injury, the 2nd Victoria was the first Victoria’s cancer nurse.
Utah is Merit’s older brother, and their relationship is nothing but a huge strain. On both of them.
Sagan… what can I say about him? I loved this character the most, even if he was kind of an outsider. He was wise for his years, and he was able to see things from more than one perspective.
Victoria – the mom in the basement, she was definitely a mystery for most of the story, but once things came to light, she became more ‘real’.
Victoria – the step-mom… seemed like a bitch, but I don’t really think she was one.
Moby, Merit’s half brother was one of the sweetest four-year-olds I’ve ever read about.
Writing style :
Hoover has a way with words, and she proved that with Without Merit! The novel is written in first person point of view from Merit’s perspective, and in present tense. The many dialogues helped me get to know all the characters well, and they also moved the story along at a nice pace.
A tangle of feels for Without Merit! Even with how self-absorbed Merit could be, I really felt for her, the difficulties she was living through, and how her past put a huge shadow on her present. I was sad, happy, elated, afraid, and I wanted more. Which is usually the case when I read a Hoover novel.
He takes a step closer to me and it suddenly feels like I’ve swallowed his heart because I have all these extra beats in my chest.
This is almost comical – this stranger kissing me as if it were the last thing left on his bucket list. It makes me wonder what compelled him to do this.
I can feel the color drain from my face at that sentence. All the color in my body – in this ridiculous moment with this random guy – pools at my feet, leaving me feeling like a second-rate carbon copy of Honor Voss. My twin sister.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: