A romantic yet historically evocative depiction of two pioneering women’s intertwined lives.

THE LIGHT OF LUNA PARK

In 1926, at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, a young nurse sacrifices her career and later the love of her life to save a premature baby who will become her daughter.

“To qualify as a nurse, I must master it all,” Althea Anderson reflects of her profession’s scientific requirements. “But to serve as one, I must pretend I know none of it.” In 1926, in a male-dominated obstetrics ward, she sees premature babies, their parents typically poor, consigned to die because, as one doctor says, “It is not our place to question God’s plan,” even though a doctor in Coney Island is saving such infants daily by putting them in incubators...and displaying them as a sideshow to fund his initiative. Haunted by one child’s death in particular, Althea smuggles another newborn, who weighs a little over 2 pounds, out of the hospital and places her in the admirable care of Dr. Couney at Luna Park. “Live babies!” the barker tells the boardwalk crowd. “All the world loves a baby!” Inside, however, all is calm and competence, and Margaret thrives. And Althea’s life, already altered by a single act of mercy, becomes one of secrecy and sacrifice. “Love makes us do things we would not otherwise consider,” one character observes, and though the novel occasionally strays into such sentimental clichés, Althea remains an engaging and convincing heroine. As does Stella Wright, the novel’s other narrator. A young special education teacher in 1950, Stella confronts that era’s brand of male callousness and societal bigotry with its undercurrents of eugenics and racism. Still mourning her recently deceased mother and disturbed by her husband’s wartime PTSD, Stella is drawn back into her mother’s past, where true identities and destinies are deftly revealed. “She made me who I am,” Stella realizes, “and I need her help to figure out who I can become....”

A romantic yet historically evocative depiction of two pioneering women’s intertwined lives.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32804-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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