The frequently dubbed “Queen of BookTok” recently announced the creation of an It Ends With Us coloring book set to hit shelves in the spring. Despite her extensive fame and continued domination of every bestseller’s list, this new project was met with many a furrowed brow and a cacophony of disapproval. In short, this new project has many loyal readers and CoHo critics alike asking: is a coloring book about domestic violence really the right move? According to a mass of BookTokkers, the answer is a resounding no.
Coloring Book Controversy
The controversy over using a novel with a central theme of domestic violence to inspire an adult coloring book began in the comments on the author’s initial post. The reactions stretch from broad questioning about the what and why behind this odd decision. Others strongly criticize the endeavor from the start, calling it “vile,” “insensitive,” and, my personal favorite, “icky.”
No doubt, the subject matter of It Ends With Us is way off base from that which should be incorporated into an upbeat, fun, or relaxing coloring book. Its official description on Simon & Schuster bears an oddly vague and nonchalant caption:
Immerse yourself in the world of Lily Bloom with The Official It Ends with Us Coloring Book. As you color these thirty beautifully rendered illustrations, you will experience this phenomenal novel’s most iconic scenes and settings.Simon & Schuster
As many readers are quick to point out, some of these most “iconic scenes” are of an abusive relationship between the two main characters, Lily and Ryle. Including one scene in which Ryle pushes Lily down the stairs. The mismatch between the novel’s sensitive themes and the creation of a supposedly charming, calming coloring book is glaring.
From states of sheer shock and confusion, the BookTok community has expressed overwhelming disapproval over this coloring book announcement. The overall reaction, even from many of her longtime readers, is one of disappointment. As astutely phrased by TikTok user @vivafalastinleen, “this goes beyond tone deaf; this is actively harmful.”
Though some would rebuff the backlash by saying hey, it’s just a coloring book, it still is, without a doubt, a truly bizarre development. Whether or not this new controversy is enough to hamper Colleen’s astronomical book sales and success over the past few years is yet to be seen. This new line of criticism piggybacks off of existing worries about Hoover’s novels being shelved as YA books when they contain many adult themes and often romanticize abuse. In other terms, even as CoHo’s sales surpass that of the Bible, controversy continues to follow her, even on the platform that cinched her fame.
Evidently, the power and influence of the BookTok community remain stronger than ever. Just one day after Hoover’s initial announcement, the author apologized via Instagram stories, writing: “I hear you guys and I agree with you.” Furthermore, Hoover notes that she has contacted the publisher with her wish to not move forward with the project’s release.
No matter where you may stand on Colleen Hoover, and her bestselling novels, BookTok’s role in both cementing new literary stars (and potentially dethroning them), circles back to a vitally important discussion about how authors tackle sensitive themes.
In this case, a domestic abuse-inspired coloring book is way off base, and to many, plain exploitative. Whether the coloring book idea was a money grab or a genuine oversight by Hoover and her publishing team, there is clearly still much to be explored about the media we consume and how creators can bring attention to important themes without invoking harmful, insensitive storytelling tropes.
To read more about the ongoing concerns about Colleen Hoover’s domestic fiction novels, click here.