There isn't enough texture in its treatment of the many serious issues faced by its heroine to satisfy readers.


A child's-eye view of growing up with a single mom, a troubled dad, and very slim resources.

"There is a girl, and her name is Sam. She has a mother named Courtney and a dad who is sort of around, sort of not." Goodman's seventh work of fiction follows her protagonist from ages 7 to 19, using very close third-person narration to limit the story to what is seen and understood by Sam herself. So, for example, what we know about her father's addiction issues or her mother's relationship with a violent but wealthy boyfriend is circumscribed in a way that soon begins to feel frustrating. Also, the tone of the narration seems to age very slowly, with extremely simple sentences and observations persisting as Sam starts high school and begins to get involved with boys. "Sam’s mom is a little different. She says, 'Let’s be real here.' She takes Sam to Planned Parenthood to get a prescription for the pill. This is because Sam was a surprise, and Courtney never finished her degree." This almost sounds like a picture book about birth control. Sam's main talent and interest is rock climbing, which she first encounters at a fair with her father, and from the start her will to succeed in the sport derives in large part from a craving for his difficult-to-capture attention. When she's in ninth grade, this need will be transferred to a college-age male coach, with problematic results. The sexual aspects and emotional dangers of that relationship are skimmed over with lyrical narration that feels almost coy at this point: "It is strange but magic in his apartment. It is wrong but deli­cious, like all the things not good for you....They are so secret; they are almost secret from themselves, almost dreaming when they lie down together….They steal time—not just hours, but the years between seventeen and twenty-two. They hide those years under their coats, and when they are together they leave those years on the floor with their boots, and socks, and clothes." By glossing over the fact that this is statutory rape and by letting its psychological implications and outcomes go unexplored, Goodman limits the reach of the novel.

There isn't enough texture in its treatment of the many serious issues faced by its heroine to satisfy readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-44781-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dial Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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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 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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