Like an Indian Maeve Binchy, Divakaruni offers an entertaining if lightweight comfort read.

OLEANDER GIRL

Although her heroine travels to the United States to unravel family secrets, the heart of Divakaruni's cross-cultural novel (One Amazing Thing, 2010, etc.) lies in contemporary Kolkata, India.

Orphaned in infancy, 18-year-old Korobi (the name for Oleander) has been raised in a cocoon of privilege and protectiveness by her devoted maternal grandparents. They have told Korobi little about her parents, but she has found and cherishes a love letter she assumes was written by her mother to her dead father shortly after she was born. Korobi has recently become engaged to Rajat Bose, a far more sophisticated, modern young man whose family owns art galleries in Kolkata and New York City. Korobi’s life seems perfect. But then Korobi’s grandfather, a stern traditionalist, collapses at the formal engagement party. After his death, Korobi’s grandmother acknowledges some bitter truths: Not only is Korobi’s father alive, an African-American whom Korobi’s mother met while studying at Berkley, but he and Korobi’s mother were not yet married when Korobi’s mother died. Despite the potential scandal that she is illegitimate and half African-American, Rajat still wants to marry Korobi, but she becomes obsessed with finding her father before marrying. Although his patience is understandably strained, Rajat stands behind Korobi’s decision to travel alone to America for a month on her quest. In America, the innocent—to the point of being naïve—Korobi faces challenges she has never imagined and takes increasing control of her life as she searches for clues about her father with the help of a kindly Indian private detective. She and Rajat, who has shielded her from his own worries about his family’s increasing financial problems since 9/11, begin to drift apart. She is tempted by a new attraction; he is pursued by a former lover. Both must find a balance between old and new values. Surrounded by diverting secondary characters, Korobi herself is so self-absorbed that it is hard not to feel sorry for long-suffering Rajat.

Like an Indian Maeve Binchy, Divakaruni offers an entertaining if lightweight comfort read.

Pub Date: March 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9565-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

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IN FIVE YEARS

After acing a job interview and accepting a marriage proposal, Dannie Kohan has had the perfect day. That is, until she awakens to find herself five years in the future with a completely different man.

Just one hour in that alternate reality shakes Dannie to her core. After all, highly ambitious Dannie and her boyfriend, David, have plotted out their lives in minute detail, and the sexy man in her dream—was it a dream?—is most certainly not in the script. Serle (The Dinner List, 2018) deftly spins these magical threads into Dannie’s perfectly structured life, leaving not only Dannie, but also the reader wondering whether Dannie time traveled or hallucinated. Her best friend, Bella, would delight in the story given that she thinks Dannie is much too straight-laced, and some spicy dreaming might push Dannie to find someone more passionate than David. Unfortunately, glamorous Bella is in Europe with her latest lover. Ever pragmatic, Dannie consults her therapist, who almost concurs that it was likely a dream, and throws herself into her work. Pleased to have landed the job at a prestigious law firm, Dannie easily loses her worries in litigation. Soon four and a half years have passed with no wedding date set, and Bella is back in the U.S. with a new man in her life. A man who turns out to be literally the man of Dannie’s dream. The sheer fact of Aaron Gregory’s existence forces Dannie to reevaluate her trust in the laws of physics as well as her decision to marry David, a decision that seems less believable with each passing day. And as the architecture of Dannie’s overplanned life disintegrates, Serle twists and twines the remnants of her dream into a surprising future.

A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3744-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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