MY BIG FAKE IRISH LIFE

McKenna’s chick-lit novel presents a woman who assumes a new identity to follow her dream of becoming an actress.

The storyline follows Linda Symcox, a blonde American actress struggling in Los Angeles as she finds that despite her classical training, she can’t land a job; as her agent, who drops her early on, tells her, she just doesn’t have “it.” After realizing that a pretty accent could make all the difference in her heretofore floundering career, she takes inspiration from a recent trip to Ireland and reinvents herself as an Irish redhead named Meghan O’Connell and almost immediately gets cast as the female lead in a new television series. Predictably, hijinks ensue. Almost immediately, she falls for her co-star, who had met her before her big transformation, and she is terrified that he will recognize her; she must spend all the time she isn’t training or filming studying Irish culture in order not to be caught unawares by an innocent question from the cast or crew; and as the show becomes more popular, people are desperate for details of “Meghan’s” personal life and Linda finds herself scrambling to fill in the blanks, ultimately piling lie upon ludicrous lie. The story reads easily enough, although there are few surprises in the plot’s twists and turns, but certain aspects fail to ring true. For instance, as exciting as Americans do find accents, particularly those of Great Britain, it seems unlikely that after working together for several months, “Meghan’s” co-workers would continue to ask her nothing but Irish trivia questions. Also, there is a frustrating inconsistency in McKenna’s description of the scenes from the television series (which, incidentally, often nicely parallel the tension between Linda and Michael); she sometimes refers to the actors by their given (or “given”) names, and sometimes by the names of the characters they play. Nevertheless, the novel is charming enough and an intriguing window into the tense challenges of maintaining a false identity. A light, fun romp that may nicely translate to a TV show or movie.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-1466331440

Page Count: 322

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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