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Publisher Cancels Colleen Hoover Coloring Book Based on Domestic Abuse Romance Novel

This just seems in poor taste.

The cover of the official 'It Ends With Us' coloring book by Colleen Hoover. The cover features drawings of flowers, some of which are colored in.

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

Update: Atria Books just announced that the coloring book has been canceled. In a statement on Instagram, the publisher stated. “Atria Books will not be moving forward with the publication of The Official It Ends With Us Coloring Book. We developed this book to be uplifting and empowering, mirroring Lily Bloom’s story; we appreciate the feedback and discourse and have the greatest respect for Colleen Hoover’s fans. Thank you for the honest conversation and passion for the world Colleen has created in her books and the characters within.

The original Instagram announcement for the book has been deleted, though the coloring book is still listed on Simon & Schuster.

Original article follows:

Colleen Hoover and her novels have been all over BookTok as of late, partially because her romance novels are so popular, but also because of the backlash the author has received for romanticizing abuse. Unfortunately, the most recent product from the author has not helped that perception.

One of the author’s most successful books, It Ends With Us, has been held up by some as an illustration of the cycles of abuse and the importance of breaking them. However, other readers have found the novel to be manipulative and not terribly nuanced in its exploration of abuse. Hoover’s story was also marketed as a romance despite the fact that the central relationship is an abusive one.

So of course Hoover and her publishers have taken the obvious next step: They turned the novel into a coloring book.

Made by Hoover’s publisher Atria Books, the It Ends With Us coloring book is advertised as a chance for readers/colorists to “experience this phenomenal novel’s most iconic scenes and settings … Everything’s better when you’re coloring The Official It Ends With Us Coloring Book!” The copy goes on to describe the coloring book as “Vividly drawn and charmingly relaxing, 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 have criticized the move as being in poor taste. Many of the comments on the since-deleted Instagram announcement contained further accusations that the author (and now her publisher) is romanticizing abuse or hiding it behind pretty imagery. And that’s ironic, given that the novel talks about how both abusers and their victims will often pretend that everything is fine.

Colleen Hoover has not posted about the coloring book on Facebook at all, so it’s possible that it was a decision made by her publisher. But Hoover most certainly had to sign off on the coloring book and will be profiting from the sales.

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

The biggest concern I have is with the coloring book being purchased by a pre-teen or teenager, and that opening the door to more of Colleen Hoover’s writing. Whether she acknowledges it or not, Hoover’s audience is largely comprised of impressionable young people who could be taking a lot of the wrong messages from what she’s writing.

(featured image: Atria Books)

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.