A delightful, daring collection.


Women find more freedom in death than in life as Matsuda reimagines traditional Japanese ghost stories and folktales for modern times.

In "Smartening Up," the opening story of this linked collection, a woman who lives alone and has embarked on an elaborate self-improvement agenda that includes affirmations, fine foods, decorating with pink that “maximizes [her] romantic potential,” and hair removal is visited by the ghost of an abrasive dead aunt who convinces her to unleash the raw power of her body rather than harness it. In the next story, "The Jealous Type," a woman whose husband is gaslighting her has jealous tantrums that rise to the level of performance art, a hilarious but also layered commentary on violence, rage, and domestic strife. Almost all the narrators play with stereotypes of women like the jealous wife or “the Middle-Aged Woman Who Wouldn’t Shut Up.” The narrator of "My Superpower," a columnist with severe eczema and allergies, says, “My eczema has given me...keen observational skills….Those who see others as monsters don’t notice that those monsters are looking back at them in turn.” This sentiment reverberates throughout the book, which is conversational in tone but not without wisdom and insight about human nature, mortality, and the ways in which family and society repress the spirit. One narrator exclaims, “The very idea that you have to rein in your heat even as love’s passion sets you ablaze...how restrictive life as a functional adult is!” The title story does allude to the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are and shares the same universe of characters as the first story. Indeed many of the stories connect through characters, time, and dimensions, and the way Matsuda executes these links is a highlight. The author has a light but lasting touch.

A delightful, daring collection.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59376-690-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 47

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?