Colleen Hoover draws criticism for coloring book based on her romance novel about domestic abuse

The cover of the official

Content Warning: The following contains references to domestic abuse and depictions of abuse.

Colleen Hoover and her novels have been on BookTok as of late, in part because her romance novels are so popular, but also because of the backlash the author has received for romanticizing the abuse. Unfortunately, the author’s newest product hasn’t helped that perception.

One of the author’s most successful books, It ends with us, has been taken by some as an illustration of cycles of abuse and the importance of breaking them. However, other readers found the novel manipulative and not particularly nuanced in its exploration of abuse. Hoover’s story has also been marketed as a love story despite the fact that the central relationship is abusive.

Then, of course, Hoover and his publishers took the obvious next step: They turned the novel into a coloring book.

Made by Hoover publisher Atria Books, the It ends with us The coloring book is advertised as an opportunity for readers/colorists to “experience the most iconic scenes and settings from this phenomenal novel… Everything is better when you color. The Official It Ends With Us Coloring Book!” The copy goes on to describe the coloring book as “Vividly drawn and charming and soothing, this is the perfect gift for any fan of the ‘glorious and touching’ (USA TODAY) #1 New York Times bestselling series.”

Somewhere along the way, I think they may have forgotten what the novel is actually about.

Even fans of the book criticized the move as tacky. Many of the comments on the since-deleted Instagram ad contained further allegations that the author (and now his editor) is romanticizing the abuse or hiding it behind pretty images. And it’s ironic, given that the novel is about how both abusers and their victims often pretend everything is fine.

Colleen Hoover hasn’t made any coloring book posts on Facebook, so it’s possible that it was a decision made by her publisher. But Hoover definitely had to sign the coloring book and will profit from the sales.

The coloring book also talks about the biggest problem in his works. Rather than engaging with the difficult subject matter, the novel and now coloring book use the aesthetics of romance and flowers — emotion and fantasy — in their marketing. In Hoover’s novel, the protagonist is pushed down the stairs by her boyfriend; do you think they will put that picture in the coloring book? No. Because it wouldn’t fit the “aesthetic”. And because it would remind people what the story is really about.

The biggest concern I have is that the coloring book is bought by a pre-teen or teenager, and that opens the door for more writing by Colleen Hoover. Whether she acknowledges it or not, Hoover’s audience is largely made up of impressionable young people who might get many of the wrong messages from what she’s writing.

(featured image: Atria Books)

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