A novel with rewards for patient and sympathetic readers.

THE BUTTERFLY LAMPSHADE

The author revisits themes she explored in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010) in her latest novel.

When Francie is 8 years old, her mother, Elaine, suffers a psychotic break. Elaine's struggles with mental health are nothing new, but this episode is severe enough that Elaine is institutionalized and Francie is sent from Portland, Oregon, to Los Angeles to live with her Aunt Minn, her Uncle Stan, and their new baby, Vicky. Twenty years later, Francie is still living in LA. She’s managing a frame store, but she spends her free time scouring yard sales for odd treasures she can sell online. Her relationship with her adopted family is solid, if fraught—Minn and Vicky are always looking for signs of Elaine’s illness in Francie. Her relationship with her mother—maintained by phone and occasional visits—depends largely on how well Elaine’s medications are working. As she begins to revisit and work through what happened when she was 8, Francie withdraws from the world beyond this small circle. A reader’s capacity to appreciate this novel will depend on how much time they're willing to spend inside Francie’s head. Francie is smart and interesting. She is an engaging protagonist. And she notes—or it feels like she notes—every single detail of every encounter she has. Sentences like “At some point, Vicky got up to wipe down the table, and I watched all the last pieces of rice and blueberries connect to her sponge and gather together to fall into her hand” take up a whole lot of the first half of the novel. But the reader who sticks with this glacial pace will realize that Francie notices everything because her survival depended on noticing everything when she was a child. By the end, the book reveals itself as a meditation on memory, identity, and the sometimes-uncanny relationship between living beings and the inanimate world.

A novel with rewards for patient and sympathetic readers.  

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-53487-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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