YOU MADE A FOOL OF DEATH WITH YOUR BEAUTY

A narrative built from cliché and pure fantasy.

A scorching tale of love after loss from the author of The Death of Vivek Oji (2020).

In the opening scene of this novel, Feyi Adekola is in a bathroom at a house party having sex with a man she’s just met. This is the first time she’s had sex in five years—since her husband died in a car accident—and Milan is attractive, eager, and convenient. Soon, she embarks on a slightly more demanding relationship. Nasir wants more than her body. When she shows him her artwork, he gets her a place in a group show and an invitation to his father’s luxurious home on a tropical island. She’s shocked to discover that Nasir’s father is celebrity chef Alim Blake. The attraction she feels for the older man is instantaneous—and different. “When she’d met both Milan and Nasir, she’d been drawn to them because the want had started in their eyes. It had beckoned her over like bait, calling her until she built a mirror, reflecting it back to them. This was foreign….” She feels a special connection with Alim when she learns that he’s known tragedy, too. What transpires from this point is…complicated. The slow burn Emezi generates as Feyi and Alim fight their shared desire is well crafted, but the ease with which Alim is willing to destroy his relationship with his son—and his daughter—for Feyi is chilling. Feyi insists that no one who hasn’t lost a partner can understand her, but the way she and Alim talk about themselves as a whole world with two people in it feels more like folie à deux than real love. Feyi’s career as an artist also seems detached from reality. She achieves a level of success that means she’s either singularly gifted or uniquely lucky. And it’s too bad that the most engaging character here—her best friend, Joy—gets relegated to the role of one-woman chorus, talking sense that Feyi absolutely does not want to hear.

A narrative built from cliché and pure fantasy.

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982188-70-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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