A true American tragedy, full of love as well as despair.


Following one crucial day in a marriage tottering on the brink, Schwarz (All Is Vanity, 2002, etc.) shows the fragility, complexity and danger inherent in love.

In a small Wisconsin community in 1963, Walter has sex with Hattie that she claims was rape but he claims was consensual. Hattie’s pregnant friend Marie wants her husband, rising golf star Bud, to defend Hattie’s honor. But Bud believes Walter’s version so Marie—who has her own motives for revenge—uses Hattie’s former boyfriend, bookish Clark, to turn Bud against Walter, son of Bud’s major backer. Skip ahead 40 years to Madison, Wis. Jon, the son of Bud and Marie, has been having an affair with Freddi, his co-worker at an ad agency, but he still loves his landscape architect wife Ginny, Hattie and Clark’s daughter. Jon and Ginny became high school sweethearts after Ginny was injured in an accident for which Jon has always felt responsible but which Ginny has always considered her own fault. With occasional splices back to 1963, the novel covers the crucial Saturday when Jon is deciding whether to stay with Ginny or leave their long marriage for Freddi. As a step toward reconciliation, he plans to take Ginny to a music festival they’ve attended in the past, but Ginny has mixed up her dates and made other, business appointments. Frustrated and hurt, Jon ends up at the festival with Freddi, who carries her own emotional baggage, including a stalker who thinks Freddi is his girlfriend. Ginny’s business appointment is with Walter, who readers quickly suspect may be her real father instead of overprotective, doting Clark. Misconnections and misunderstandings mount as the characters—not just Jon and Ginny, but their parents, their friends and acquaintances—make choices drawing them closer and closer to inevitable disaster. While the manufactured quality of the 1963 story line is a minor problem, Schwarz’s portrait of Jon and Ginny’s loving but damaged marriage is unsparing and heartbreaking.

A true American tragedy, full of love as well as despair.

Pub Date: July 8, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-385-51029-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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?

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


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

Did you like this book?