An overstuffed narrative and sloppy writing mar a novel that, despite it all, still has its moments.

THE STORM

A trio of storylines centers around the Partition of India.

Anwar’s debut novel is an ambitious one, with threads reaching back to World War II, to the more-or-less present day, and to 1970, to the devastating storm that killed half a million people in Bangladesh. The novel follows several storylines and a scattering of characters, straining by the end to bring them all together. To begin with, there’s Shahryar, a young father who lives in Washington, D.C., but was born in Bangladesh. Shahryar’s visa is about to expire, and he’s desperately casting about for a way to stay in the country with his daughter, Anna. Then there’s Claire Drake, a British doctor serving in World War II, first in Burma, and then in what was at that time East Bengal. There’s also Ichiro, a Japanese pilot shot down nearby, whom Claire must treat. There’s Rahim, too, a wealthy Muslim man living in Calcutta with his wife, Zahira, as that city erupts into riots in the midst of the Partition of India. To say the least, there’s a lot going on. Anwar ups the ante even further with additional twists: Rahim is kidnapped by a Hindu gang, and Shahryar is caught up in what may or may not be a conspiracy. At this point, the book is practically bursting at the seams. Why Anwar shoved all these characters into one book is unclear: They would have done just fine each in their own respective novels. His prose doesn’t help matters. It is sometimes overwrought (“a valley covered in cloaks of mist run ragged in places by trees crowned with fall’s incipient fire”) and sometimes plainly lacking (Zahira’s response when the police appear in the nick of time: “You…how…what?”). Still, Anwar has an engaging voice that will perhaps improve with practice.

An overstuffed narrative and sloppy writing mar a novel that, despite it all, still has its moments.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7450-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more