One character’s coma is only the first surprise in this satisfying story of middle-aged love.


What if Snow White woke up and decided she didn’t much like Prince Charming?

Something like that happens in Leavitt's latest novel. New Yorkers Simon and Stella have been a couple since the heady days when his rock band was almost famous. Now in their 40s, he’s still chasing musical fame while Stella, a skilled and well-regarded nurse, supports them both and generally is the adult in the relationship. The night before they’re supposed to leave for a gig in California that might be his big break, they have a nasty argument, drink a lot of wine, and, despite Stella’s aversion to drug abuse, share an unidentified pill. In the morning, Simon wakes up and Stella doesn’t. Her coma lasts for several months. The middle section of the book alternates among Simon’s anguished guilt and devotion to caring for her, Stella’s hallucinatory experiences while comatose, and the reactions of Stella’s best friend, Libby, who is one of the doctors treating her. Libby had never liked Simon but is impressed with his dedication; unlucky in love herself, she’s drawn to him. Sparks fly, but their loyalty to Stella counters the attraction. Then the patient awakes, and, as can happen after comas, her personality is quite different. The old Stella was cautious and always played by the rules; the new one is restless, reckless, and emotionally distant. The only thing that calms her is art. Compulsive doodling turns into startlingly accomplished drawings—a talent she had never displayed before. People begin to commission her probing portraits; in the meantime, Simon, kicked out of his band because he stayed at Stella’s bedside, is a Lyft driver. And Libby keeps swearing she won’t see Simon anymore and then opening the door when he buzzes. Leavitt expands the characters with backstories that have a common thread: Stella, Simon, and Libby all felt severely rejected by their parents in childhood. The upheavals in their lives caused by Stella’s coma and its aftermath lead to the exposures of old secrets, healed wounds, and surprising futures.

One character’s coma is only the first surprise in this satisfying story of middle-aged love.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-779-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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
  • 50

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?