SNAPPED

A quarterback's fight for systemic change in football takes a back seat to his girlfriend's personal journey.

A woman examines her own life after landing her dream public relations job with a pro football team.

Elliot Reed is a biracial woman who knows working for the Denver Mustangs will be challenging, but she doesn’t expect to be thrust into the middle of a PR nightmare the first week of the season. Quinton Howard Junior, the team’s new Black quarterback, protests racism in football and society by taping over the league’s name on his uniform and taking a knee during the national anthem. The team’s owner tells Elliot that if she can’t convince Quinton to stop protesting, she’ll eventually lose her job. Elliot understands Quinton's reasoning, but she decides to use her PR skills to convince him to start his own foundation, hoping it will redirect his energy while placating the team’s owner. The romance is a late-stage and underdeveloped thread in the novel. Instead, the focus is on Elliot’s personal journeys: maintaining her female friendships, struggling to keep her job, dealing with her grief over her father’s death, and learning how racism works. After Elliot’s Black mother died when she was a baby, her White father “raised [her] with the mentality to be color-blind,” and she learns that racism is real from Quinton, his agent, and her White friends. Perhaps Martin’s intent is to teach White readers about racism in sports and in America, but unfortunately this means Elliot is characterized as someone who has spent her entire life ignoring the racial aggressions she has witnessed and experienced. She tells Quinton, “I try to ignore race, and what you’re doing is forcing me to examine things in a way I never have.” The book neuters Quinton's Colin Kaepernick–like protest, turning it into a cutesy romantic plot device instead of respecting it as a furious, full-throated repudiation of the real injustices faced by Black Americans.

A quarterback's fight for systemic change in football takes a back seat to his girlfriend's personal journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10250-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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