A debut novel about the families we’re given and the families we create.

Andrea Morales is reeling from multiple romantic disappointments when she does the unthinkable: she has sex with a man. What should have been a one-time hook-up turns into a regular thing because it feels good to be wanted, and Ryan wants her. Of course, Andy has to keep this act of heresy a secret from the “lesbian Mafia,” but that becomes impossible when she gets pregnant and decides to have a baby. The first section of this novel is set in Portland, Oregon, in 1998 and '99. This is the place Andy lands when she leaves small-town Nebraska and her parents behind. Portland is no Seattle, but there are plenty of hipster signifiers. Andy works in a letterpress studio. Her friends include a stripper and an apprentice tattoo artist. Just about everybody’s in a band. In Andy’s voice, Johnson depicts these people and this time with a fondness that borders on overfondness. Every detail is precious, and Johnson is sometimes given to overwriting. The amount of time that passes between Andy and Ryan’s first night together and their eventual split is just a few months, but it takes up more than half the book. There’s a short middle section devoted to a brief period in which Andy and Ryan are negotiating their future. This is told mostly in phone messages and unsent letters, and the device works to convey disconnect and miscommunication. A decade has passed by the time we reach the third section, and this is where one might wish that the first part of the novel had been tightened up to allow more development here. Andy is happily settled with Beatriz, the love of her life, when 10-year-old Lucia gets curious about her father. This part of the narrative feels rushed. Neither Beatriz nor Lucia emerges as anything more than sketches, and all-grown-up Andy and Ryan get short shrift, too. Still, this is a welcome look at a happily unconventional family.

Quirky and sweet.

Pub Date: March 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266668-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


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

Did you like this book?

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?