SO HAPPY FOR YOU

An exploration of a friendship brought to the brink.

Society’s obsession with unwed women leads to destruction.

From the first line of Laskey’s novel, readers may wonder if they’re dealing with hyperbole or horror: “If you want to know the story of how my best friend and I ended up trying to kill each other, I should probably start with the night she asked me to be her maid of honor.” Robin Hawkins, a queer Brooklyn woman in her early 30s, is writing her Ph.D. dissertation on society’s pervasive focus on marriage. It's a time when only 21% of people get married and 76% of marriages end in divorce, meaning “fewer people were buying houses and having kids, which meant suburbs became ghost towns and cities became wildly over-crowded...even though Americans were happier than ever….Happiness was not good for capitalism or the patriarchy or white supremacy.” Urged by her adviser to make her dissertation sexier by adding real-life case studies, Robin hesitantly agrees to be the maid of honor at her best friend Ellie’s wedding. From there, a series of increasingly sinister events unfolds, spurred on by Ellie’s desperation to bring good luck to her wedding and Robin’s growing unrest. The bridezilla trope is pretty well played out by now, and Laskey winks a little too much at The Handmaid’s Tale. Nevertheless, Laskey successfully creates an eerie tone for the novel and a discomforting closeness between Ellie and Robin, two women who share a deep bond forged in adolescence. Ultimately, the novel settles into the sweet spot of dystopia: just unrealistic enough to feel fantastical but grounded in sufficient reality for the reader to pose the question, could this really happen?

An exploration of a friendship brought to the brink.

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-335-42690-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

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

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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 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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