A striking novel about fathers and sons in 21st-century Ireland that does not quite live up to its potential.

THE WILD LAUGHTER

Two brothers try to help their terminally ill father end his life in a rural Irish town.

Doharty Black and his older brother, Cormac, are stunned when their domineering, terminally ill father, known to them as the Chief, asks them to look in the Bible and “find the bits that reference suicide.” The two brothers reluctantly embark on a quest to find a safe way for them to help the Chief commit suicide. But while the older and more successful Cormac can temporarily escape to his home and job in town, Doharty must remain with his parents at their struggling farm and deal with the day-to-day reality of their father’s illness. Doharty’s lifelong resentment of Cormac festers as they attempt to navigate their familial duties and is further complicated when they both become involved with the same woman. This novel, set in 2014, functions both as a biblical parable and an indictment of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economic boom of the 1990s and 2000s, culminating in the 2008 financial crash. The Chief’s physical decline mirrors the decline of the family’s economic prospects in the wake of an ill-advised loan. Hughes is attentive to the larger political context of her narrative and to more granular details of language and place, and her prose is vivid and unsparing: “His mind was a luxury,” Doharty thinks bitterly of Cormac, “…at any moment something you’d say would be turned inside out like a child’s eyelid to traumatise you.” The novel would be more successful, however, if its plot and the relationships between its characters were as vivid as its sentences. So much is left unsaid between Doharty and his family that these fraught relationships begin to feel threadbare.

A striking novel about fathers and sons in 21st-century Ireland that does not quite live up to its potential.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78607-780-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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