A funny, sharp, and insightful look at family bonds and the effects of tradition on modern life.

THE FORTUNES OF JADED WOMEN

A contemporary Vietnamese American family in Southern California deals with the fallout of an ancient curse.

The three Dương sisters of Orange County’s Little Saigon community have a lot in common, from a passion for knockoff Louis Vuitton bags and real jade to a distinct inability to revere their elders as much as they should. They’re also estranged—from each other, from their mother, from their grown daughters (who are well on their way to becoming estranged, too). But the alienation isn’t random. Long ago, an ancestor named Oanh fled her marriage after falling in love with a Cambodian man, and her husband’s vengeful mother put a curse on all Oanh’s descendants. Now, happiness is destined to elude them. If they marry, their spouses will be bad husbands, and they will never have sons, an affront to tradition. But when a mysterious psychic tells Mai Nguyễn, the oldest, that the time has come to mend fences with her sisters, Minh Phạm and Khuyến Lâm, changes seem to be on the horizon. The new year, the psychic says, will bring a wedding, a funeral, and, finally, the birth of a son, a bold prediction that scrambles the fates of this sprawling, squabbling family of women. Written with crackling humor and a shrewd, intimate understanding of Vietnamese American family life, the book is full of tart, broad comedy and farcical setups. But first-time novelist Huynh also uses her gift for humor as a tool to tell a unique story about exile and assimilation, highlighting the perils of trying to bend newer generations to ancient traditions and the difficulty of reconciling culture with the messy truths of modern American life. You will laugh along with the Dươngs, but you’ll also find yourself cheering for their reconciliation as they learn “there was nothing wrong with having Vietnamese daughters. It was how the world treated them that turned it into a curse.”

A funny, sharp, and insightful look at family bonds and the effects of tradition on modern life.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9821-8873-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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

IT STARTS WITH US

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

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

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IT ENDS WITH US

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 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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