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The Colleen Hoover Controversy: A Look Beyond the Hype

Is Colleen Hoover a literary genius or a glorifier of abuse? Dive into the controversy surrounding her books. And discover if her work is a must-read or a red flag.
by Chris Allmer | May 22 2024
The Colleen Hoover Controversy: Love or Hate?

So, have you also heard the buzz about Colleen Hoover? Her captivating characters and dramatic storylines have hooked millions of readers; she even trended on TikTok and … outsold the bible.

But is Colleen Hoover all hearts and flowers? Not quite… while her passionate tales have garnered a legion of fans, her work also sparks heated controversy.

Why the drama? Let’s dive in and find out together. Let’s see on which side of the Colleen Hoover controversy you’ll end up.

But before we start: 

Do you want to explore the full spectrum of Colleen Hoover’s writing

From the heart-wrenching romance of “It Ends With Us” to the mind-bending thriller “Verity,” Blinkist has got you covered. Take a look at our guide to the best Colleen Hoover books right here: A Guide to the Best Colleen Hoover Books.

The Colleen Hoover Controversy explained on “It Ends With Us”

Let’s talk about the book that started the Colleen Hoover firestorm: It Ends With Us.

This novel follows Lily Bloom, a young woman caught between two loves. One is her childhood sweetheart, Atlas, a passionate but troubled soul. The other is Ryle Kincaid, a handsome neurosurgeon with a mysterious past and a controlling streak.

And here’s where things get complicated: 

While the book is marketed as a contemporary romance, Lily’s relationship with Ryle takes a dark turn. 

He exhibits signs of emotional and physical abuse, leaving readers questioning the true nature of their connection.

And this stark contrast between the vibrant cover and lighthearted blurb compared to the dark narrative has sparked controversy. Critics argue that this misrepresents the story, potentially romanticizing abuse for unsuspecting readers.

And this mismatch between expectation and reality in “It Ends With Us” has ignited discussions about how romance novels handle complex issues.

But there’s more:

The “It Ends With Us” Coloring Book Fiasco

Remember the dark and complex themes of It Ends With Us? Well, in 2023, things took a surprising turn. 

Colleen Hoover announced the release of a coloring book based on the novel, focusing on the character Lily Bloom’s “strength” in dealing with domestic abuse.

The public outcry was swift and fierce. Many readers saw this as insensitive and exploitative, essentially reducing a traumatic experience to a marketing gimmick

The backlash was so intense that Hoover issued a public apology, acknowledging the “tone-deaf” decision.

Are you craving a different kind of romance? Then dive into Blinkist’s curated list, 20 Heart-Wrenching Books Like ‘It Ends With Us’. This selection offers powerful romantic reads that will stay with you long after the last page.

Beyond “It Ends With Us” – the Colleen Hoover Criticism

While “It Ends With Us” might be the poster child for the Colleen Hoover controversy, it’s not alone. Novels like “Verity” also delve into complex characters battling mental health issues. 

In this story, the protagonist, Lowen Ashleigh, is contrasted with Verity Crawford, a writer who challenges traditional expectations of motherhood.

The narrative seems to favor Lowen, who embraces motherhood, while portraying Verity negatively for her desires, which reinforces a narrow view of womanhood.

The main criticisms of Colleen Hoover:

1. Wide-reaching influence

Influencers and reviewers like Nicole Rafiee and Caleb Joseph, who have significant followings, criticize Hoover’s novels. They argue that Colleen Hoovers books glorify unhealthy relationships and portray them as romantic.

2. A Mismatch for Young Readers?

Critics are also concerned that these books, often marketed towards young adults, contain mature themes and explicit scenes that might be inappropriate for the intended age group.

3. The ‘Healing Him’ Theme

Another common critique is the portrayal of female characters who exist primarily to support and “fix” male love interests with troubled pasts. This reinforces an unhealthy dynamic and diminishes the female characters’ own agency.

4. Problematic Relationships

Critics also highlight specific relationships within Hoover’s problematic novels. For example, “Ugly Love” features a past relationship between step-siblings, a scenario that’s both legally and ethically questionable.

The Crux of the Colleen Hoover Controversy:

Do these portrayals raise awareness or risk glamorizing sensitive themes? 

Critics argue that Hoover’s characters often navigate these challenges without sufficient depth or focus on their true struggles. They worry that readers might romanticize the darkness instead of recognizing the hardships involved.

And Hoover, on the other hand, maintains that her intention is to shed light on real-life issues, sparking conversation and potentially helping readers who identify with her characters.

Struggling in a Relationship? Blinkist Can Help.

For those finding themselves in challenging or abusive relationships, or simply seeking to foster healthier connections, resources like Blinkist offer valuable support and insight. 

Blinkist has curated a collection titled “Books To Improve Any Relationship” with practical guides and insights to help you build healthier connections.


And to further support you on your journey to healthier relationships, Blinkist offers a 7-day free trial to access all these books at no cost. It’s a perfect first step for anyone looking to learn from the Colleen Hoover controversy, enhance their relationship skills and emotional connections.

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