Book Review: ugly love
A perfect heartbreaker for Valentine’s Day
Those who find themselves on “BookTok” have probably heard of ugly love. For those who don’t, this novel is written by no. 1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a romance novel genius. Hoover has an exceptional ability to write with passion, create depth in his characters, and engage readers from the first page. ugly love is yet another one of his truly must-have books.
ugly love is written from two angles: the first follows Tate Collins in the present day and the second follows Miles Archer as a teenager. When Tate and Miles first meet, they don’t like each other much, as she finds him drunk outside her brother’s apartment. When he sobers up, however, they discover that they have a deep attraction for each other. The only caveat is that Miles has no interest in finding love, and Tate has never been good at noncommittal relationships. Nonetheless, their undeniable chemistry leads them to follow two of Miles’ rules of romance: 1. Never ask about his past and 2. Don’t expect a future. This is the moment in the novel where readers can tell the couple’s relationship isn’t going to end well. Indeed, ignoring the fact that she knows following these rules will hurt her, Tate agrees to them.
Hoover does an exceptional job of maintaining the integrity of his characters’ perspectives. Some critics argue that the early sections of this novel are too sexually intimate, but it’s clear that Hoover does this on purpose. Since the only present-day narrative is Tate’s, readers experience his mixed emotions and confusion due to Miles’ real-time unpredictability. The more time Tate and Miles spend together, the more their relationship becomes complicated: the line between “friends with benefits” and a couple begins to slowly blur. Tate becomes more invested in their relationship; Miles becomes more inconsistent. However, as the reader learns more about Miles’ past, it becomes harder and harder for them to hate him. Yet readers still feel a sense of frustration because they know what Tate doesn’t yet know.
Readers will be upset that Tate won’t leave Miles given what they know about him, but she reminds readers that “love isn’t always pretty. Sometimes you spend all your time hoping that it will eventually be something different. Something better. Then, before you know it, you’re back to square one and you’ve lost your heart somewhere along the way. Tate points out that not all relationships are easy, and it’s hard to judge someone’s decisions when they’re under the spell of love. She shows that sometimes love requires patience and perseverance.
Many reviewers on Goodreads expressed anger that Hoover gives Tate “a lack of self-respect”. These dissatisfied readers claim that since Tate is unable to stay away from Miles despite the fact that he continues to hurt her, she is disrespecting herself. It would be a valid point if Tate was unaware of her actions, but throughout the novel she continues to show that she is aware of the situation she is putting herself in. She consciously submits to disrespectful treatment because, as she puts it, “Beautiful times make up for ugly love.” Hoover’s portrayal of Tate in this way makes her feel like a real person: she’s able to make her own decisions, even if it angers readers. Indeed, readers are meant to hurt Tate and want her to get the treatment she deserves – everyone really wants a happy ending for their favorite characters.
Hoover also uses an interesting writing style to chronicle Miles’ past. When first describing his first love, he says “Rachel. Rachel. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. She is like poetry. From then on, his entire section is written in poetry because that’s how he envisions his life with Rachel. When she ends up hurting him, this poetry disappears, showing that he no longer understands the world around him.
ugly love is the perfect novel to pick up for the heartbreak of an early Valentine’s Day. It unquestionably deserves five stars because of Hoover’s beautiful prose and ability to create characters that lift off the page.