If Colleen Hoover Can Have Bad Titles So Can I

Is Young Adult fiction really appropriate for Young Adults?

Colleen Hoover has been writing for over a decade but has gained popularity in recent years. Her highest selling book by far is It Ends with Us with over 20 million copies sold. This book is labeled as a romance even though it is not an accurate portrayal of what the book stands for. The story is more about the abusive relationship between two of the characters and the struggles of leaving a violent environment. The overall themes of this particular story  may send a good message; however, the messages and themes of her other novels are not cohesive and encouraging.  

There are some common tropes that are present in the majority of Hoover’s young adult and romance novels. Hannah Azerang who goes by A Clockwork Reader on YouTube pointed out some of the stereotypical scenarios such as the absent or terrible father, a predictable plot twist, a traumatic incident, and someone dying from a disease of some sort. Most worrisome of all is the presence of abusive relationships, whether they are acknowledged or not, throughout all her books. 

This means that the themes of the books can also be heavy for younger audiences. Her not acknowledging these toxic situations can somewhat normalize them, especially for influential pre-teens. Modeling this behavior over and over can subconsciously affect how teens view relationships. After something is seen repeatedly, it is assumed to be normal. Avid readers of Hoover might no longer see the problem with her recurrent use of harmful themes and tropes.

But what must be said is that her writing’s content, with its dismissal or ignorance of abuse and trope, reflects Hoover herself, with many instances of controversies plaguing her throughout her career. One of the more recent controversies being Hoover making a coloring book based off It Ends with Us. Many took this as a mockery and commodification of domestic abuse survivors and goes against the overall premise of the book itself. Due to the immense backlash against the project, it will no longer be published. 

Hoover was also accused of blatantly ignoring messages about her son allegedly harassing a minor. Her son, Levi, was 21 then and was aware that the girl he was speaking to was 16. Her books, especially the ones that romanticized abuse, were boycotted.  

There were rumors that Hoover blocked the girl when she reached out to her about this. However, Hoover claims she addressed the situation with those involved and issued an apology. She stated that she handled all the matters privately with those involved and did not wish to address it online. 

With a platform as big as hers it is difficult to keep it from the media. Hoover was criticized for being tone-deaf and ignoring problems instead of confronting them head on. 

She claims that she has raised her three sons to be respectful, but this does not seem likely, based on the books she writes. There is a point where art reflects who the artist is as a person. With so many novels with bad communication and toxic gender stereotypes, it is no surprise that this scandal arose. 

It is difficult to understand why her novels are so popular if they are so problematic. Makayla Bordner-Lembachner (10) owns all of Hoover’s books and while she has enjoyed them, she does recognize that the novels are simply written and somewhat toxic. 

“When you first start reading her you think she’s like really amazing until you start reading random books and they are just better than her books,” said Bordner.  

So, while there is no shame in reading and buying her books, it is best to be made aware of the content you are consuming and who is profiting from it. The ongoing debate regarding the tumultuous nature of separating the art from the artist is one that will rage for years to come, But nevertheless understanding exactly who you are  supporting, monetarily and otherwise is absolutely important.