A Literary Hoover Dam
BY AYANNA ROHIL '25
Gut-wrenching romance, horrific plot twists, and tear inducing backstories—what more could you want in a good read? Many people are familiar with Colleen Hoover, an author who has recently been blowing up on TikTok and Instagram; her books are advertised as young adult romance, intriguing readers with the promise of a cutesy romance with shocking plot twists. However, this fame isn’t truly warranted. Colleen Hoover’s books are extremely problematic, both in the writing style and the author herself, and young readers are susceptible to their many problems.
Nearly all of Hoover’s books contain elements of abuse, trauma, and toxic relationships. For example, the book November 9 contains abuse, arson, sexual assault, stalking, and much more. Yet, this book is advertised as “an unforgettable love story between a writer and his muse.” Not only is this extremely misleading—there are no content warnings listed on Amazon or the Barnes and Noble website—it also pushes readers to believe that this story is a love story. To someone who is unfamiliar with abusive relationships, reading this for the first time could lead them to assume that a relationship like this is acceptable, when in reality it is extremely toxic and inappropriate. Further, about 43% of TikTok users are 18 to 24 years old, which has helped promote the sale of Colleen Hoover’s books by spreading them to a wider audience. However, the average human’s brain doesn't mature until the age of 25, and before then, people are much more likely to accept negative influences. While Hoover attempts to make note of the fact that these are not perfect relationships, her books never explicitly state the toxicity of them, further confusing their reader.
Hoover’s implicit condonement of abusive relationships and stereotypes is concerning. While readers can expect to encounter mature themes in YA novels, the near-constant mentions of abuse in November 9, for example, where the love interest constantly crosses the protagonist’s boundaries even after she repeatedly withholds her consent are messages that no author should send to young readers, especially in a book marketed as a romance. Though spreading awareness about domestic abuse is critical, Hoover’s depiction of abuse seems to romanticize it, rather than shed light on the issue.
In the same novel, the protagonists discuss their favorite foods, and the protagonist comments that her lover’s favorite dish—pad thai—is “almost the same thing” as her favorite food, sushi. When contradicted, she argues that “they’re both Asian food.” Although this short piece of dialogue may seem harmless, it reinforces the stereotype of all Asian cultures being a monolith. While Colleen writes main characters that like Asian food, which has become “trendy” in recent years, she reinforces the message that people can “cherry pick” aspects of culture that benefit them while failing to fight stereotypes that harm marginalized communities.
While Colleen Hoover's books are extremely popular, it is crucial that people pause to look beneath the surface of her happy-go-lucky romances to examine the books themselves. It is necessary to analyze the message promoted by a book and the author’s intentions before supposting the author. Although Hoover’s books seem promising, their deeper problematic undertones certainly do not condone supporting their author.