40 pages 1 hour read

Colleen Hoover

November 9

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2015

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Summary and Study Guide


November 9 is a novel by bestselling author Colleen Hoover. Published in 2015 by Atria, this novel follows the unusual love story between Fallon O’Neil and Ben Kessler. After meeting by chance, these two strangers agree to meet once a year in an experiment that fills their lives with a confidence they both lack—and a novel-in-progress written by Ben. Tragedy and an unspoken truth threaten to tear them apart, but the experiment results in a manuscript that heals them both.

This guide is based on the Atria e-book edition (2015).

Content Warning: November 9 contains mentions of suicide.

Plot Summary

On the second anniversary of the fire that left her scarred, an angry 18-year-old Fallon O’Neil meets her father, former actor Donovan O’Neil, for lunch. Fallon tells her father that she plans to move to New York that evening in order to pursue an acting career on Broadway. Fallon’s father tells her that her opportunity to be an actor died after the fire (which he takes responsibility for) and that she should pursue another career. Reacting to the cruelty of his words, a young man in a neighboring booth slides next to Fallon and claims to be her boyfriend. He tells Fallon’s father that there are plenty of actors with physical injuries who have found success in Hollywood and that there is no reason to discourage Fallon. The young man then insults Fallon’s father, causing him to abruptly leave the restaurant.

Fallon and this young man, Benton “Ben” James Kessler, have dessert together and discuss why he pretended to be her boyfriend. Fallon finds Ben entertaining, so she invites him back to her apartment to help her finish packing. She introduces him to her best friend, Amber, and Amber’s boyfriend, Glenn. Fallon and Ben go into her bedroom, and the latter makes a reservation at a fancy restaurant. Ben picks out a dress for Fallon to wear, but she doesn’t like that it shows off her scars. He looks at her scars and tells her that she’s beautiful; no one has ever told her this before. Ben goes home to get ready for dinner and returns an hour early. He and Fallon lay on her bed, and he tells her that he likes the feel of her scars. They fall asleep and miss their dinner.

Fallon and Ben kiss and talk about the future. Following Fallon’s mother’s advice about not getting serious about someone until she is 23, they decide to meet at a set restaurant at the same time each year for 5 years (November 9th). They block each other on social media and do not give each other their phone numbers; they also give each other homework. Fallon is instructed to kiss four boys and go to one audition a week, while Ben is instructed to read five specific romance novels to prepare him for writing a novel based on their relationship.

The following year, Fallon’s plane is late, but she and Ben meet up at the latter’s house. Fallon meets Ben’s two older brothers, Ian and Kyle, and Jordyn, Kyle’s fiancée. Kyle and Jordyn’s wedding is a week away, and the latter is in distress; the former seems to be struggling as well, as Fallon witnesses him hit Ben. Fallon and Ben end up on the beach; Ben takes Fallon with him to get a tattoo on his wrist. When it’s time for Fallon to catch her flight, Ben drives her to the airport. She is surprised when he boards the plane just to give her homework to reconnect with her father.

A year later, Fallon is waiting for Ben in New York when he calls the café where she waits (as they don’t have each other’s phone numbers) and tells her that Kyle was killed in a car accident and he cannot come. She goes to him instead and offers support in his grief. They become intimate and decide to end the experiment to be together. However, when Fallon learns that Jordyn will be remaining in the house and needs Ben to help her with her unborn baby, she decides to leave and renews their experiment, breaking Ben’s heart.

Fallon moves back to Los Angeles and is waiting for Ben at their restaurant, excited to tell him about the move. Ben shows up with his nephew, 10-month old Oliver, and lets it slip that he and Jordyn have become a couple. Fallon is visibly heartbroken and tells Ben that their experiment is over.

The next year, Fallon goes out with her friends and a boy she’s been seeing in order to forget Ben. However, Ben shows up at the club where the group is. He begs Fallon to come home with him so he can explain his situation to her. She initially refuses, but when things go sour with her date, she agrees. Ben explains that his relationship with Jordyn is over; he and Fallon become intimate. Early in the morning, Fallon wakes and is hungry, so she searches for a shirt to wear while she eats. She goes into Ben’s closet and finds his manuscript. Curious about the day Kyle hit Ben, she takes the manuscript into the kitchen to read it. Fallon is shocked when she reads Kyle’s claim that Ben started the fire that caused her scars.

Believing that Ben might have added this twist to make the plot fictional, Fallon flips to the prologue and reads that the death of Ben’s mother is somehow connected to the fire (they happened on the same November 9th). She becomes upset and refuses to listen to Ben when he wakes and tells her there is an explanation. He tries to get her to take the manuscript with her, but she refuses.

A year passes, and Fallon has found it impossible to forget Ben. On November 9th, she plans to spend the day alone. However, Ben leaves a copy of his manuscript on her front doorstep. Fallon’s mother reads it the next morning and insists that Fallon read it. She does and learns that Ben was only 16 when he found his mother’s body after she died by suicide. Believing that Fallon’s father, Donovan O’Neil, was responsible for his mother’s suicide, Ben went to his house and lit his classic car on fire; he didn’t mean for the fire to spread. Ben’s confession makes Fallon see the events of that night in a new, non-malicious light. She goes to meet him at the restaurant, and they pledge their love to each other.

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