*contains spoilers and trigger warnings
Ever since the new school year started, I’ve been hearing talk about Colleen Hoover’s books. Hoover is an icon in the young adult fiction genre. It is popular in part for its inclusion of racy, dramatic themes such as abuse, rape and addiction.
These books inspire unhealthy expectations of relationships that affect their impressionable, young audience. You’ve never experienced love, and reading about toxic relationships can normalize those actions. Therefore, I believe readers should be warned before deciding to read any of her books.”
— Ava Coyle ’25
In Hoover’s book November 9, the main protagonist, Ben, often tries to control Fallon. For example, he hints that he should decide what Fallon wears to dinner since he’s the one paying for it. He is extremely possessive. At one point, he even interrupts their date and basically “claims” her.
Ben looks over at Fallon’s date and says, “This guy told me this morning where to show up tonight so I can find the girl I want to spend the rest of my life with. And I’m sorry, but this girl happens to be your date.”
I reread the scene in It Ends With Us when Ryle, the main male protagonist, attacked Lily, the main female protagonist. It was kind of out of the blue, no trigger warning or anything. I couldn’t believe it was happening. While I’m so happy that Lily from It Ends With Us “just keeps swimming”, I wish there had been a disclaimer on how intense the book can be.
Normalizing these relationships could be extremely dangerous. Giving the impression that love is this unhealthy, possessive, traumatic experience can mislead your audience. Young people who may only have heard of romance through their books may become oblivious to unhealthy behavior in relationships. No relationship is perfect, but the many inappropriate, bigoted traits its characters possess could be destructive to youth. Her books could potentially show her readers what an unhealthy relationship looks like. Her popularity can spoil readers’ impressions without realizing that most of her books do not depict healthy relationships.
Well, I’m not saying that people should stop reading her books. I have read four books by Colleen Hoover. The twists and turns of her books make for an interesting read. For example, I really enjoyed her book Heart Bones, but while I enjoyed some of her books, I was shocked by some of the toxic dynamics her characters portray.
In order for Hoover’s books to be sensitive and respectful of everyone’s past and its impact on their readers, I think she should start using disclaimers at the beginning of her books, before her audience might begin to expect what they’ve read.