Cummins (stories: Red Ant House, 2003) avoids distracting polemics, interweaving the personal and political with quiet...

YELLOWCAKE

The title refers to the noxious dust produced by a uranium mill in the Four Corners region of the Southwest, where this complex, unusually mature debut novel takes place.

In 1991, years after the mill’s closing, former workers and their families still suffer from the fumes’ toxic effects. Ryland Mahoney, a former mill supervisor now dependent on his oxygen tank, refuses to connect his early poor health to his mill work. Although his wife Rosy attends meetings, he wants nothing to do with a group forming to sue for compensation. One member of that group is Becky Atcitty, a loan officer at the local bank, whose father, Woody, worked with Ryland and is now, at 46, dying of cancer. The Mahoneys are Irish Catholic, the Atcittys Navajo. They live in largely separate worlds that sometimes intersect and occasionally collide. Ryland’s best friend, Sam, another mill worker, left Rosy’s sister Lily for Woody’s sister Alice. Sixteen at the time, Alice bore Sam’s child—Delmar—but would not marry him. Now living in Florida and nearly destitute, Sam comes home to attend Ryland’s daughter’s wedding. Discovering that Lily never finalized their divorce, Sam “extorts” money from her. Sam desperately wants to see Alice, who is away on the rodeo circuit. Instead, he tries to reestablish his paternal connection with Delmar for the first time in years. After a short prison stint, Delmar is genuinely, touchingly trying to go straight. Woody soon dies, and Sam helps Delmar and his grandmother try, unsuccessfully, to ensure that he receives a proper Navajo funeral. Becky, who has begun a tentative romance with a Navajo teacher, finds herself caught between loyalty to her father’s Navajo traditions and her mother’s more assimilated Christianity. While Ryland, Sam and Woody have allowed themselves to become victims, Becky and Delmar ultimately learn how to control their own destinies.

Cummins (stories: Red Ant House, 2003) avoids distracting polemics, interweaving the personal and political with quiet authority.

Pub Date: March 15, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-26926-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2006

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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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