An earnest, if overlong, novel about the lasting effects of a Bangladeshi Muslim childhood in England.

WRITTEN

THERE ARE NO CHOICES. IT WAS ALREADY WRITTEN.

A girl from a conservative household grows into a woman torn between tradition and independence in Lee’s debut novel.

Growing up in a Bangladeshi immigrant family in Ashcroft, England, Eleanor is raised according to her mother’s Muslim faith. “We are not here to judge what is written,” her mother tells her, “only Allah knows what is written for us.” This notion of things being written doesn’t sit well with Eleanor, for why would Allah write such terrible things? The man who molests her at the mosque, for instance? Or the violence that Eleanor and her mother suffer at the hands of her father? At the age of 7, Eleanor is drawn to Mrs. Abbots, a friendly woman in a fur coat whom she meets while putting flyers under windshield wipers in Ashcroft to promote her father’s restaurant. Mrs. Abbots teaches her that life gives people the freedom to make their own choices, and, inspired by that idea, Eleanor attends college, moves out of the family home, gets a job, and begins to travel the world. She seems on track for a liberated, self-determined life but feels she owes it to her mother to enter into a traditional marriage, as she promised she would. She begins to see Syed, a Bengali man who would please her parents but who does not share Eleanor’s views on female independence. Will Eleanor end up a subservient housewife like her mother or find the freedom to write her own story? Lee tells Eleanor’s tale in smooth, expressive prose that captures her protagonist’s inner turmoil: “I woke up in the morning, staring emptily at the ceiling. Syed had already left for work. I could just walk out and leave, couldn’t I? I thought as I looked at the door. How many mornings had I let that thought run through my mind, only to unconvince myself?” At 570 pages, the book is far too long, particularly since the reader has a pretty good sense of where it is going from the start. That said, people caught between religious and secular cultures should be able to relate to Eleanor’s struggles and may see themselves in her story.

An earnest, if overlong, novel about the lasting effects of a Bangladeshi Muslim childhood in England.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 526

Publisher: Loving Creative Inspirational Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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