Colleen Hoover’s lack of viewer discretion harms audience


Graphic made by Lilly Weisz

No relationship is perfect, yet the many inappropriate, bigoted traits her characters posess could be destructive to the youth

*contains spoilers and trigger warnings

Since the new school year has begun I have been hearing talk of Colleen Hoover’s books. Hoover is an icon in the young adult romance book genre. She is popular due, in part, to her incorporation of racy, dramatic topics such as abuse, rape and addiction.  

In Hoover’s book “November 9,” the main protagonist, Ben, often tries to control Fallon. For example, he insinuates that he should decide what Fallon wears to dinner, as he is the one paying for it. He is extremely possessive. He even at one point interrupts her date and basically “claims” her. 

Ben looks over at Fallon’s date and says, “This guy told me earlier today where to show up tonight so that I could find the girl I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with. And I’m sorry, but that girl just so happens to be your date.” 

I re-read the scene in “It Ends With Us” when Ryle, the main male protagonist, assaulted Lily, the main female protagonist. It was so out of the blue, no trigger warning or anything. I could not believe it was happening. While I am so happy that Lily from “It Ends With Us,”  “just keeps swimming ,” I wish there had been a disclaimer about how intense the book can be.

Normalizing these relationships could be extremely dangerous. Leaving the impression that love is this unhealthy, possessive, trauma filled experience may misguide her audience. Young people who may have only heard of romance through her books could become blind to unhealthy behaviors in relationships. No relationship is perfect, yet the many inappropriate, bigoted traits her characters posess could be destructive to the youth. Her books could potentially show her readers what an unhealthy relationship looks like. Their popularity can jade readers’ impressions, not realizing that most of her books do not portray healthy relationships. 

These books set unhealthy expectations for relationships that affect her impressionable, young audiences.

— Ava Coyle ’25

Now, I am in no way saying people should stop reading her books. I have read four of Colleen Hoover’s books. The twists and turns her books take make for an interesting read. I genuinely enjoyed her book “Heart Bones,” for instance, but while I have enjoyed some of her books, I have been left in shock by some of the toxic dynamics her characters portray.  

For Hoover’s books to be sensitive and respectful of everyone’s pasts and her influence on her readers, I believe she should start using disclaimers at the beginning of her books before her audience potentially begins to expect what they have read.