AT WEDDINGS AND WAKES

Following the author's splendid That Night (1987), this remarkable novel—about the temper and times of an Irish-American family in 1950's Long Island and Brooklyn—firmly establishes McDermott as a writer of major talent. Like Anglo-Irish novelist William Trevor, McDermott plots the touching dignity of ordinary lives pursued on the crest of inevitable sadness. Outside the wedding hall awaits the summons to the wake. Three school-age Dailey children—earnestly watching, like young animals training for survival in the snug safety of adult regimens—dutifully follow their mother Lucy on the summer treks from Long Island to Brooklyn—from the bus stop where Lucy is aware of her ``stunned hopelessness'' to the exciting trip through the subway cars and Lucy's leap, with the children, across the ``loud and dark and precarious distance'' of the coupled cars, toward home and her native Brooklyn. In the apartment (dark with boredom, tears, and doughty courage) are the aunts, Lucy's sisters: one defeated, one defiantly managing, and then May, simply loving. And there's also ``Momma,'' who emigrated from an Irish farm of mud and dirt, tended a dying sister and her four girls, married her sister's husband, and bore her own son, who now pays a (sober) ceremonial visit to his mother once a year at Christmas. Momma's anger has taken on fate. There are endless afternoons—the heavy meal, the cocktail hour, the quarrel time, weeping, and closed doors. But the ``merry fog'' of Christmas transforms the apartment, families, and life. For the Daileys there are the shore vacations for two weeks each year, when there is no past, with its ghosts and old hurts, but only a tender present. Then there's the wonderful day when May, the middle-aged ex-nun, is married—days before the fateful tap at the door of the seaside cottage. In translucent prose with rich recognitions, a fine novel of vigorous wisdom and heartbreaking humanity.

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-10674-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

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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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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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