Stop coddling Colleen Hoover

Too ‘mani’ people are falling victim to Hoover’s capitalistic ploys. Photo by Piper Bailey


Content warning: this article contains references to sexual violence

It’s come to my attention that there are students on this campus who are still unironically reading Colleen Hoover, and that just isn’t going to fly. 

Perhaps it started as “wanting to get back into reading” and your friend had the “perfect” book recommendation for you to try. All it takes is one field trip to the book section of your local Walmart to be brainwashed by the vibrant covers and comically large fonts that are Colleen Hoover novels. 

Colleen Hoover is a New York Times bestselling author of primarily romance novels. Her books vary in length and topic but typically feature twisted storylines meant to draw in readers. 

I’ll admit; there is something compelling about the seemingly random turns her stories take — said turns suckered my naive, 16-year-old self into reading four of them. However, the closer attention you pay to her word choices and the deeper you look into her background, the more you begin to realize there’s something a little twisted about her that goes beyond her plots. 

Before I reveal some of the crazier things Hoover has done, it’s worth noting how she views people and their actions. 

In her arguably most famous book “It Ends With Us”, she begins with the main characters meeting for the first time. Right off the bat, you can tell neither the female protagonist, Lily Bloom, nor who I consider to be the antagonist, Ryle Kincaid, are in good spaces mentally. 

Between the tone Ryle uses with Lily — a complete stranger at this point — and the aggression he shows towards inanimate objects, the foreshadowing to his later acts of domestic violence is glaringly obvious. This is why it is ironic Hoover chose to write, “There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things,” in the same chapter. 

One might think she would have learned in the eight years since the novel was published to stop doing the “bad things” that make her look like a bad person, but that’s not the case. 

Careless choices 

There’s a fine line between making content for purposes of representation and glorifying sensitive topics. Hoover started out on the representative side but is now so lost in glorification territory that I don’t think she’ll ever be able to make it out. 

It’s well known that the inspiration for “It Ends With Us” came from her parents’ relationship and the violent household she grew up in. She wanted to make a novel that paid homage to her mother’s sacrifices and inspire women who found themselves in similar situations to Lily to seek help. There’s a chance it did help victims find the strength to leave their abusers, much like Lily does at the end of the novel, but it doesn’t make the contents any less toxic. The book as a whole romanticizes abuse. 

The issue with books blowing up on social media is that they aren’t always properly conveyed. People can start reading with the intention of finding the literary masterpiece BookTok lost their minds over and end up running into graphic depictions of physical and emotional abuse. An easy solution to help guide people who aren’t looking to read traumatic content is content warnings. 

Typing up a quick little author’s note with a content warning isn’t that hard. They may not have been popular when the book was originally written, but there’s no excuse for why the copies produced since then don’t have them. Even the e-books purchased on retailers like Amazon don’t include warnings despite the ease of adding that into a digital version. 

Hoover can label the book on her website and official Facebook group as “17+,” but not including any warnings on the actual books themselves isn’t going to solve the problem. Word of mouth only goes so far. You can hear that there’s violence in a novel, but vague generalities don’t prepare you for the graphic scenes in the book itself. 

Yet some fans are against warnings in fear of spoiling the novel for future readers, the idea being that the warning would tell you what to expect in the book and ruin the shock of Ryle’s abuse and its progression. 

Ally Barath, a sophomore PP2 pre-pharmacy major, wholeheartedly disagrees with this notion. 

“I think it’s more important to have the content warning than it is to potentially spoil a book,” Barath said. “If your book is potentially spoiled, or a part of it, that is to me much less of a big deal than it is if you get into a book, dive deep into the characters and read something that you want no part of.” 

Along with this, the synopsis on the cover of the book and its official description listed on many popular retail sites don’t mention the violence at all. In fact, it’s not even mentioned on Hoover’s own website. It’s instead labeled as a “captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, ‘It Ends With Us’ is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price.” 

To make matters worse, the novel spends 75% of present-day Lily’s point of view excusing Ryle’s abusive behavior. To many readers — myself included — Ryle’s behavior is recognizably toxic, and you come to the conclusion he’s the archetype of the exact kind of person you want to run away from. 

This awareness doesn’t come to every reader though, as I’ve found the reading community has a lot of what I call “Ryle sympathizers.” Such people need to reevaluate their “ideal relationships” and realize romanticizing abuse isn’t okay before they actually enter their own. 

Colorful capitalism 

Trying to market novels that cover sensitive topics like domestic violence and abusive relationships can’t be easy, but I feel like going the capitalistic route is definitely not the answer to your problems. 

Fans who had begged for more “It Ends With Us” content should have gotten their fix with the sequel — that Hoover claimed she wasn’t planning on writingIt Starts With Us”. She effectively marketed both books by posting about her surprise sequel, which is why her following marketing attempts seem like last-minute cash grabs to keep herself in the limelight. 

In January of last year, Hoover and the publisher behind “It Ends With Us”, Atria, announced the official “It Ends With Us” coloring book. Its contents were to include images from scenes and quotes from the novel, but nothing beyond a cover was revealed due to the project being recalled less than 24 hours after it was announced following fans and haters alike expressing their disdain for the idea. 

Many people initially did not understand what the issue with the project was until creators on TikTok pointed out many scenes from the book did not need to be colored. Their videos depict black and white clip art images with sarcastic captions representing different traumatic scenes. One shows a picture of a piece of lasagna with the caption “the lasagna that burnt Ryle’s doctor hands.” This is a reference to the pivotal scene where Ryle lashes out after an accident and physically attacks Lily. 

Hoover and her publisher both made statements apologizing for the insensitive nature of the coloring book and stated they thought it would reflect Lily’s story and her journey of growth over the course of the novel. Neither party made another post regarding the project, so it seemed like they had learned to not try marketing the novel with products that would be inappropriate. 

However, that assumption would be wrong because on Feb. 28, 2024, Hoover and the nail brand Olive and June made multiple posts announcing their official collaboration. 

The collection is called “It Starts With Beautiful Nails” and is an obvious play on Hoover’s novels. Inside the collection are polishes named after key characteristics and moments from her novels “It Ends With Us”, “November 9”, “Reminders of Him” and “Heart Bones”

With names such as “Same Day Next Year” and “Diner Date”  the polishes seem niche to the book they’re based on. “November 9”, a novel about a woman who falls for a man who sexually harasses her on the anniversary date of a tragic incident that changes her life forever. The two decide to meet up in the same diner they originally met in on the same day every year — hence the names of the polishes — because apparently stalking-turned-“love at first sight” solves all your problems. 

Nail polishes don’t need to be named after misplaced trauma bonding, gaslighting and manipulation. Hoover’s younger — and more impressionable — audiences would be sporting nails built off topics they likely have no idea about the severity of, and that is what is the scariest about them. 

Crude commentary 

Sharing my favorite “worst Colleen Hoover line” is a pastime I cherish with my fellow readers. Truly, there is nothing like opening TikTok after a stressful day of classes and seeing the excerpt from “Ugly Love” that says “we both laughed at our son’s big balls.” 

Even with the context that the father of the child claims the mother “did all the work” and the only thing the baby got from him was “his balls,” it’s still weird. It’s a little too unique of an encounter to not have been based on real-life experiences. I just know that bad boy is circulating around in one of Hoover’s sons’ group chats. I’d never let my friend live down that his mom wrote about his balls, and it actually got published. 

As funny as her quotes can be, I can’t help but wonder if they take away some of the credibility behind what she’s talking about. 

Kaelyn Hart, a first-year criminology-psychology major, finds that sometimes Hoover’s blunt phrasing is needed to accurately portray her characters. 

“I feel like her wording is the same as her nail polish display,” Hart said. “Often she’s insensitive but also kind of realistic in a way because … there are plenty of men out there like Ryle. In that sense, I feel like she’s being more realistic by including … technically controversial words.” 

Stylistically, Hoover loves to include things that are commonly taboo to talk about. It’s part of her attempting to have representation yet still get readers’ attention. 

A classic example of this is the opening sentence of Hoover’s psychological thriller “Verity”. There’s nothing like “I hear the crack of his skull before the spattering of blood reaches me” to get a novel rolling. 

“Verity” as a whole makes me think Hoover needs a psychological evaluation. The words I read in this novel made me feel physically ill and wish I didn’t know how to read. 

Hoover is too descriptive with scenarios to not have any warnings. The novel covers topics such as self-harm, not-so-accidental child death, morally questionable situations and graphic violence. There are ways to talk about sensitive matters, and she chooses to ignore them in favor of getting more reads. 

The worst part about her writing style is that she gets away with it. There is nothing exciting or unique about it, other than it sounding like she put down her first thoughts and they somehow made it to the final cut. Her novels are a complex concoction made from not being a good writer and being able to come up with plots so random they just barely make sense. 

Reeling in readers with shocking quotes is definitely a way to sell your books, but some things are just better off left in your drafts. 

It seems like there is nothing we can do about the time and money we wasted by making the wrong person famous, but what we can do is stop supporting her moving forward. Don’t buy the nail polish. Don’t repost her announcements — it’s embarrassing and the easiest way to identify yourself as a CoHort. Yes, I will be watching. 

The logical thing to do is let her books collect dust on a shelf somewhere, but if you want to get real frisky, I hear Butler is trying to be more eco-friendly, and paperbacks are recyclable.


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