If the novel occasionally seems to lack subtlety—the phrase “on the nose” sometimes comes to mind—it's rescued by the sheer...

CHARMED PARTICLES

Part immigration story, part Midwestern pastoral, Kolaya’s charming debut maps the schisms of a small Illinois town that's divided over a proposal to build a Superconducting Super Collider at the local research lab.

Abhijat Mital arrived in Nicolet, Illinois, from India to take a prime research job at the National Accelerator Research Lab, starting a new American life with his wife, Sarala. But as Sarala has thrown herself into all things American, Abhijat is feeling the pressure of his ambitions. When the lab becomes a contender to house the new Superconducting Super Collider, it seems like his last chance—his only chance—to “make the kind of legacy in the physics world he’d always expected to.” Meanwhile, across Nicolet, Rose Winchester is forging an unconventional life in a conventional town. Her husband, Randolph, is an explorer who spends the majority of each year in remote pockets of the globe; her daughter, Lily, is a supremely precocious child with a distinctly un-childlike enthusiasm for academia. The two families, the novel’s dual anchors, are linked by more than just their outsider status: Lily and the Mitals' equally gifted daughter, Meena, are best friends, united by their curiosity and a passion for the World Book Encyclopedia] But as the debate over the super collider heats up, the town begins to split: the scientists fighting on behalf of discovery on one side, the skeptical longtime residents, worried for their safety (and their property values), on the other, progress pitted against tradition. And yet for all the novel’s earnest focus on local politics, the book is at its best and most nuanced when Kolaya turns her attention to the personal: Abhijat and Sarala’s marriage, Lily and Meena’s increasingly difficult friendship, and—above all—Abhijat’s internal struggle to come to terms with the reality of his career.

If the novel occasionally seems to lack subtlety—the phrase “on the nose” sometimes comes to mind—it's rescued by the sheer strength of its extremely inviting characters.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-938103-17-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dzanc

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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

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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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