This razor-sharp morality tale can be read in an afternoon but contains a lifetime of wisdom about how we cope with the...

STRIKE YOUR HEART

From France: The life of an exceptional woman is cursed and blessed from the start by her mother's failures.

This slim novel by Nothomb, a popular and prolific Belgian author who resides in Paris, has been translated by Anderson, who translated The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and seems poised to take off for the same reasons that novel did—elegant writing, fairy-tale qualities, psychological insight, a toothsome plot, and an intoxicating Frenchness—or perhaps in this case, Belgian-ness. First, we meet Marie. "Tall, with a good figure, her face lit with a blond radiance...Marie was nineteen and her time had come. She could sense that an extraordinary destiny awaited her." Marie easily snags the attention of the best-looking boy in town, and "when the girls looked at her their painful envy turned to hatred, and she thrilled to the pleasure of their gaze." This self-regard and competitiveness become quite problematic as Marie's actual, nonextraordinary destiny unfolds: pregnancy, early marriage, and motherhood in a dull, small town. Nothing makes her happy, not her perfect wedding or her pretty town house or her adorable baby girl. "You are the loveliest little girl I've ever seen," says her husband to their newborn, and "Marie's heart froze." The baby, named Diane, is the star of this story. She is shaped by her mother's coldness and jealousy in ways that are far from predictable. The remainder of the novel tracks Diane’s relationships with the other females in her life: her grandmother, a sister, a best friend, and, most importantly, a mentor she meets in medical school and that woman's daughter. Nothomb has published a book a year since 1992; though quite a few are available in English, she is still something of an unknown. Perhaps this new novel will bring her the recognition here that she has abroad.

This razor-sharp morality tale can be read in an afternoon but contains a lifetime of wisdom about how we cope with the weaknesses of those closest to us.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60945-485-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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