“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
―No Man Is an Island.
Confess by Colleen Hoover
A word of warning: this review will contain spoilers, reference slut shaming, assault, talk of sexual attraction and include a lot of swearing. If you are sensitive to any of the aforementioned issues, do not read this.
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Auburn Reed is determined to rebuild her life after the death of her boyfriend Adam, who had been her first love.
Now, five years down the road she moves to Dallas, Texas to find work as a cosmetologist.
But things are far from perfect; Auburn hates Dallas, she hated it five years ago while siting with Adam on his deathbed and she still hates it now.
However, life has a strange habit of making a bad situation worse, especially when Auburn walks into an art studio that she passes by everyday and meets the enigmatic and aloof owner, Owen Gentry.
There is an instant attraction, and after a magical night on the town Auburn starts thinking that maybe Texas isn’t so bad after all.
That is, until she learns that Owen is keeping a momentous secret from her, one that could very well undo all the hard work she’s put into moving on in the last five years.
Auburn knows that Owen is trouble, and she knows she should stay away from him.
The only question is — can she do it?
Down right awful.
Those are just a few of the words I would use to describe the absolute mess the characters in this book were and it pains me to have to write about them.
But the sooner this is over, the sooner I can throw this book into a dark corner of my room and never have to think about it again.
Let’s start with Auburn, she’s the dim witted damsel in distress who is able to effortlessly piss me off.
She has no back bone, no personality, no charm, she has absolutely nothing to offer as a character because she is completely flat.
Not to mention she endlessly contradicts herself.
Now, the thing with most romance novels is that often the female lead is written in a way that allows the reader to imagine themselves in her place.
And that’s okay and it works, but only in bloody YA novels, dammit!
When you are trying to write a serious novel, that needs to address some hard hitting questions, you don’t make the protagonist a spineless airhead, I honestly shouldn’t have to be the one to tell you that.
She was just such a boring and unfathomable character that I would have to stop several times while I was reading just to talk myself into continuing to read further.
And that should definitely never happen when you’re reading a book.
Auburn fell short of every requirement that makes a good character, and it wasn’t that she missed the mark by a fraction, she fell into another fucking dimension trying to get away from it.
All in all, -100/10 would not recommend.
Let’s move on to the troubled love interest; he’s gorgeous, talented, charming and aloof.
He has a sordid past that could destroy our damsel and wants to stay away for her sake but she refuses to let him go.
Owen Gentry is unremarkable, on every level.
In fact, the only thing that stood out about him was how fucking creepy he was because seriously this guy could easily fit in with Edward Cullen and Christian Grey.
Hoover tried to paint him as this magnificent creature who was the key to Auburn’s happiness but yet again fell short.
It was actually rather disturbing how much he fixated on Auburn, not to mention that for the entirety of the twenty-one pages of the chapter he was introduced in, he continuously compared Auburn to his ex, whom he referred to as ‘palindrome Hannah.’
He takes every chance he gets to stare and babble about her, and on their ‘first date’, he kept trying to prolong his stay, bought Auburn a drink when she was still underage, forced her to dance with him and invited himself into her house and took her to his studio.
And proceeded to not talk to her for three weeks afterwards because he was arrested for a drug charge.
That’s the love interest people, couldn’t you just eat him up?
Like I said, just like his girlfriend, he’s drab and boring and makes me want to rip the pages to shreds.
The only character I could tolerate was Harrison, the bartender and a friend of Owen’s.
But even so that could barely make up for the disaster the rest of the lot were.
I have a confession to make;
I didn’t actually finish this book.
I read about a 113 pages and decided that enough was enough and called it a quits because frankly my time would be better spent elsewhere.
Let me get right to the gist of things,
This. Book. Fucking. Sucked.
There, I said it.
I have honestly never hated a book so much (I probably have, but hush I’m being dramatic. It was still awful though, no doubt about that.)
The characters were atrocious, the plot was laughable and this was an all around shit show.
First of all, I really hate it when romance writers go for the instant connection cliche.
It’s over used, boring, unrealistic and frankly just plain lazy on the author’s part.
Owen and Auburn literally met eyes and fell in love, and got the hots for each other before they even knew the other’s name.
Well actually that’s a lie, this is where it gets creepy.
Now see, Owen knows who Auburn is but she doesn’t have a clue about him.
Owen was in a hospital when he was fifteen because his father was in a coma.
The same hospital where Adam, the dead boyfriend was being treated and as such where Auburn visited everyday for five weeks.
He apparently fell in love with her back then, without ever saying a word to her, and he’s been obsessed with her since.
That and then after not seeing this chick for FIVE FUCKING YEARS he recognizes her the second he lays eyes on her and continues to babble incessantly about how she’s different from his exes (Palindrome Hannah) and how he’s never met anyone like her before.
It wasn’t romantic, it was creepy and unsettling.
Anyways, their ‘relationship’ (essentially an instalove where they went out once and would now die for each other) was unrealistic and boring.
They had no chemistry whatsoever, and they simply were not a good match for each other (creepy obsessions aside).
Moving on to slut shaming. I am so sick of this showing up in literature, like people this the bloody twenty-first century get over yourselves and your illogical opinions and prejudice.
There is an instance early on where Auburn makes an incredibly controversial remark and it was just so necessary and uncalled for because it did nothing but make Auburn look like a brat.
(I’ll add my notes on this book at the end of the review and you can find that particularly offending paragraph there.)
Also, I think there was a paragraph early on (somewhere around page 30) that essentially implies that Owen slept with his art teacher at some point in school?
That just had me pause for a second and I can’t tell if he was speaking literally or figuratively but that’s still fucked up, but I’m beginning to see a pattern in Hoover’s work because of it.
Okay, so to sum up all the things wrong with this book:
- The characters have no chemistry and as such the romance seems dry and forced. There is no creativity involved or anything particularly remarkable about it.
- Owen is a total creep, and it shows. He takes advantage of Auburn’s lack of a back bone is essentially a stereotypical asshole (but in artist edition.)
- Auburn is a total doormat, she has no personality and is as bland as they come.
- SLUT SHAMING.
- Reference to a student teacher relationship and possible underage sex.
- Instant romance.
- Paragraphs worth of useless information.
- Hoover will go on and on with needless descriptions and will complicate the simplest of sentences.
- -1000/10 would not recommend
Now for the things (as scarce as they are) that I did like.
Firstly, Hoover’s writing is a bit addicting, even if she does have a habit of going off on a tangent.
And I think that it’s one of the things that let me get a hundred pages in before I threw in the towel.
Secondly, I like that Hoover implemented the confessions and the artwork into this novel.
The paintings were incredibly beautiful and impressionistic and really added some well needed character.
The confession were an interesting addition as well.
See, the confessions included in this book were actually submitted anonymously by real people and that’s what makes them so unique, a fascinating implement indeed.
Third, there was one scene in the book where a drunken Auburn attempts to cut Owen’s hair and it did make me chuckle a bit.
And lastly, the cover is positively stunning, hats off to the designer for that one.
Below the line you can find the notes I made for this book, enjoy:
Confess book notes
35 pages in and already the word love is getting tossed around.
What’s with the sudden attraction and infatuation. Like I get these two went to school together but it’s been 5 years like wtf??
The paintings are pretty, incredibly abstract and impressionistic
Page 31: Uh…did Owen sleep with his art teacher?? Make a judgment for yourself:
“I walk into the bathroom and look at her clothes, and I want to walk them back downstairs to her. I want to tell her never mind, that I want her to wear her own clothes tonight, not Hannah’s clothes. I want her to be herself, to be comfortable, but my customers are wealthy and elite and they expect black skirts and white shirts.
Not blue jeans and this pink (is it pink or red?) top that makes me think of Mrs. Dennis, my high school art teacher. Mrs. Dennis loved art. Mrs. Dennis also loved artists. And one day, after seeing how incredibly talented with a brush she thought I was, Mrs. Dennis loved me.
Her shirt was pink or red, or maybe both, that day, and that’s what I remember as I look down at Auburn’s shirt, because Mrs. Dennis who? She was not a palindrome, but her name spelled backwards was still very fitting, because Dennis = Sinned, and that’s precisely what we did.
We sinned for an entire hour. She more so than me. And don’t think that hasn’t been a confession turned into a painting. It was one of the first I ever sold. I named it She Sinned with Me.
Hallelujah. But alas, I don’t want to think about high school or Mrs. Dennis or Palindrome Hannah because they are the past and this is the present, and Auburn is . . . somehow both. She would be shocked if she knew how much of her past has affected my present, which is why I won’t be sharing the truth with her. Some secrets should never turn into confessions. I know that better than anyone.” Hoover, Colleen. Confess: A Novel (pp. 31-32). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.
Chapter 2: Owen page 31
“But I can already tell that Auburn isn’t like Hannah. I can see the layers of depth in her eyes. I can see the way my art moves her by the way she focuses on it, ignoring everything else around her. I hope she isn’t like Hannah at all. She already looks better in Hannah’s clothes than Hannah did.” Hoover, Colleen. Confess: A Novel (p. 31). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.
Good lord I may be ill. These two have no chemistry despite the author desperately trying to prove otherwise. It feels forced and one sided. Owens acting like he’s known auburn his entire life even though it’s been 5 years since they last spoke.
Auburn is annoying the shit out of me.
Why does Hoover constantly remind us that auburn isn’t 21 yet?
Also how come Owen spent 21 pages just comparing Auburn with Palindrome Hannah? Like huh? (Chapter 2)
Didn’t auburn just say she’s never had a drink before ( she’s never ordered a drink before) but if you’ve drank before then order that and don’t let someone do it for you! The amount of contradictions is killing me
PAGE 60! CHAPTER 4!! THIS SHIT. Honestly can this guy be any creepier???
￼”If I were eleven years old again, I would shake my Magic 8 Ball and ask it silly questions, like “Does Auburn Mason Reed like me? Does she think I’m cute?” And I might be making assumptions based on the way she’s looking at me right now, but I expect the answer would be “It is decidedly so.”
We continue walking away from the bar, toward her apartment, and considering it’s quite a few blocks away, I can probably think of enough questions between here and there to get to know her a whole lot better. The one thing I’ve been wanting to know most since I saw her standing in front of my studio tonight is why she’s back in Texas.
“You never told me why you moved to Texas.”
She looks alarmed by my comment, but I don’t know why.
“I never told you I wasn’t from Texas.”
I smile to cover up my mistake. I shouldn’t know she isn’t from Texas, because as far as she knows, I know nothing about her other than what she’s told me tonight.
I do my best to hide what’s really going through my head, because if I were to come clean with her now, it would make me look like I’ve been hiding something from her for the majority of the night. I have, but it’s too late for me to admit that now.
“You didn’t have to tell me. Your accent told me.” Hoover, Colleen. Confess: A Novel (p. 61). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.
Brace for cringe…
PAGE 62-63! THEY’VE ONLY KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR A FEW HOURS PEOPLE!!
“I realize this doesn’t make me sound good, but I’m not about to lie to her. Plus, if I tell her the truth, she might continue to trust me and ask me even more questions.
“Yes. I get broken up with a lot.”
She squints her eyes and scrunches her nose up at my response.
“Why do you think that is, Owen?”
I try to pad the harshness of the sentence about to come out of my mouth by speaking softer, but it’s not a fact I necessarily want to admit to her. “I’m not a very good boyfriend.”
She looks away, probably not wanting me to see the disappointment in her eyes. I saw it anyway, though.
“What makes you a bad boyfriend?”
I’m sure there are lots of reasons, but I focus on the most obvious answers.
“I put a lot of other things before my relationships.
For most girls, not being a priority is a pretty good reason to end things.” I glance at her to see if she’s still frowning or if she’s judging me. Instead, she has a thoughtful look on her face and she’s nodding.
“So Hannah broke up with you because you wouldn’t make time for her?”
“That’s what it boiled down to, yes.”
“How long were the two of you together?”
“Not long. A few months. Three, maybe.”
“Did you love her?”
I want to look at her, to see the look on her face after she asks me this question, but I don’t want her to see the look on my face. I don’t want her to think my frown means I’m heartbroken, because I’m not. If anything, I’m sad that I couldn’t love her.
“I think love is a hard word to define,” I say to her.
“You can love a lot of things about a person but still not love the whole person.” “Did you cry?” Her question makes me laugh.
“No, I didn’t cry. I was pissed. I get involved with these girls who claim they can handle it when I need to lock myself up for a week at a time. Then when it actually happens, we spend the time we are together fighting about how I love my art more than I love them.”
She turns and walks backward so she can peg me with her stare. “Do you? Love your art more?”
I look straight at her this time. “Absolutely.” Her lips curl up into a hesitant grin, and I don’t know why this answer pleases her. It disturbs most people. I should be able to love people more than I love to create, but so far that hasn’t happened yet.” Hoover, Colleen. Confess: A Novel (p. 62-63). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.
Oh god she’s going home with him, isn’t it a little early for that??? But then again I wouldn’t be surprised considering what the last 60 pages gave me.
But I sincerely doubt I can sit through a session of these two fucking, not even god could make me do that willingly.
Page 69: you can reference a horror movie with John Cusack but not the story it was based on?
“I follow behind her, all the way to apartment 1408. I stare at the pewter number plaque on her door, and I want to ask her if she’s ever seen the horror movie 1408, with John Cusack. But I’m afraid if she’s never heard of it, she might not like that there’s a horror movie with the same name as her apartment number.”Hoover, Colleen. Confess: A Novel (p. 69). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.
(In regards to Hoover making a reference to the movie 1408 which was based on a short story of the same name written by Stephen King in 1999 and featured in s collection titled Blood and Smoke.)
So just because her roommate has unorthodox interests and enjoys a piece of fiction and is little quirky and unconventional in her mannerisms she’s…different and weird?! Bravo Hoover.
Page 70: “it’s way too soon for a kiss and the discomfort of our FIRST DATE coming to an end is there.”
BUDDY WHEN WAS IT EVER SAID THAT YOU WERE ON A DATE FFS SERIOUSLY THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! YOU LITERALLY MET HER 5! HOURS AGO SLOW DOWN.
Chapter 5, Auburn Page 72: The hell is with this line???
￼”What the hell am I doing? I don’t do this kind of thing. I don’t invite guys into my home. Texas is turning me into a whore.”Hoover, Colleen. Confess: A Novel (p. 72). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.
The fucking stereotypical portrayals of the characters makes me wanna scream especially shit like “I assumed artists were quiet, brooding, emotional creatures.” (Page 74)
Chapter 7 Auburn: so let me get this straight, just because a guy stops calling you get all emotional and teary eyed, even though you only knew him for ONE NIGHT?! I mean Owen did a shitty thing sure but WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD HONEY ITS A SHITTY PLACE FILLED WITH SHITTY PEOPLE! SURPRISE SURPRISE!
Honestly, Auburn reminds me of a literal child, shit happens get over it already.
Too many paragraphs of useless descriptions and dribble
Who lets a drunk person near their head with a pair of scissors??? Owen Gentry that’s who.
The fucking idiot. I do admit that scene did make me chuckle a little.
“Owen, stop,” she says, pushing my shoulders back against the chair.
I try to gently brush her aside with my arm so I can stand, but she shoves me back in the chair again. The scissors are still in her left hand, and I know it’s not intentional, but they’re a little too close to my throat for comfort. Her hands are on my chest and I can tell I just made her angry with my failed attempt at escaping.
“You need a haircut, Owen,” she says.
“It’s okay. I won’t charge you, I need the practice.”
She brings one of her legs up and presses her knee onto my thigh, then brings the other leg up and does the same.
Now that she physically has me locked to my chair, she lifts herself up and begins messing with my hair. She doesn’t have to worry about my trying to escape now that she’s in my lap. That won’t happen. Her chest is directly in front of me, and even though her button-up shirt isn’t at all revealing, the fact that I’m this close to such an intimate part of her has me glued to my seat. I gently lift my hands to her waist to keep her steady.
When I touch her, she pauses what she’s doing and looks down at me. Neither of us speaks, but I know she feels it. I’m too close to her chest not to notice her reaction. Her breath halts right along with mine. She looks away nervously as soon as we make eye contact and she begins snipping at my hair. I can honestly say I’ve never had my hair cut quite like this before. They aren’t as accommodating at the barbershop. I can feel the scissors sawing through my hair and she huffs.
“Your hair is really thick, Owen.”
She says it like it’s my fault and it’s irritating her.
“Aren’t you supposed to wet it first?”
Her hands pause in my hair as soon as I ask her that question. She relaxes and lowers herself until her thighs meet her calves. We’re eye to eye now. My hands are still on her waist and she’s still on my lap and I’m still thoroughly enjoying the position of this spontaneous haircut, but I can see from the sudden trembling of her bottom lip that I’m the only one enjoying it. Her arms fall limply to her sides and she drops the scissors and the comb on the floor. I can see the tears forming and I don’t know what to do to stop them, since I’m not sure what started them.
“I forgot to wet it,” she says with a defeated pout.
She begins to shake her head back and forth.
“I’m the worst hairdresser in the whole world, Owen.”
And now she’s crying. She brings her hands up to her face, attempting to cover her tears, or her embarrassment, or both. I lean forward and pull her hands away.
She won’t open her eyes to look at me. She keeps her head tucked down and she shakes it, refusing to answer me.
“Auburn,” I say again, this time raising my hands to her cheeks.
I hold her face in my hands, and I’m mesmerized by how soft she feels. Like a combination of silk and satin and sin, pressing against my palms. God, I hate that I’ve already fucked this up so bad. I hate that I don’t know how to fix it. I pull her toward me and surprisingly, she lets me.
Her arms are still at her sides, but her face is buried against my neck now, and why did I fuck this up, Auburn? I brush my hand over the back of her head and move my lips to her ear. I need her to forgive me, but I don’t know if she can do that without an explanation. The only problem is, I’m the one who reads the confessions. I’m not used to writing them and I’m certainly not used to speaking them. But I still need her to know that I wish things were different right now. I wish things would have been different three weeks ago. I hold on to her tightly so that she’ll feel the sincerity in my words.
“I’m sorry I didn’t show up.”
She immediately stiffens in my arms, as if my apology sobered her up. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I watch closely as she slowly lifts herself away from me. I wait for a response, or more of a reaction from her, but she’s so guarded. I don’t blame her. She doesn’t owe me anything. She turns her head to the left in an effort to remove my hand from around the back of her head. I pull it away and she grips the arms of the chair and pushes herself out of it.
“Did you get my confession, Owen?”
Her voice is firm, void of the tears that were consuming her a few moments ago. When she stands, she wipes her eyes with her fingers.
She nods, pressing her lips together. She glances at her purse and grabs both it and her keys.
She begins walking toward the door. I slowly stand, afraid to look in the mirror at the unfinished haircut she’s just given me. Luckily, she switches the lights off before I have the chance to see it.
“I’m going home,” she says, holding the door open.
“I don’t feel so well.” Hoover, Colleen. Confess: A Novel (pp. 108-111). Atria Books. Kindle Edition.
I think Harrison is probably the only character I can tolerate in this book (Harrison, the Irish bartender and Owen’s friend)
Well folks, there you have it.
I personally would not recommend that you read this, but to each their own I suppose.
If you do however decide to subject yourself to this sorry excuse for literature, I’d love to know your thoughts.
Until next time.
Photo by Geordanna Cordero-Fields on Unsplash