Better appreciated as an energetic parade of characters and voices rather than a straightforward narrative.

THE VOICEOVER ARTIST

A Chicago-set novel about a troubled young man trying to reach his potential, aided—or hindered—by a cast of colorful characters.

This book has a premise as direct and familiar as a screenwriter’s log line: a young man named Simon, having recently overcome a stutter, sets out to fulfill his dream of becoming a voice-over artist. Sounds simple, but author Reidy (Captive Audience: Stories, 2009) does all he can to complicate it. Consider, first, the family dynamic: Simon’s mother is dead after years of wasting her life with Simon’s father, an alcoholic with his own stuttering problem. Also consider: Simon hasn’t just overcome a stutter—he has emerged from 18 years without speaking. Meanwhile, Simon’s brother, Connor, is building his career in improvisational comedy; he has always been verbose and witty—an obvious shadow cast over Simon’s silence. Also, there are the numerous women in Simon’s life: ex-girlfriends, current love interests, and his troubled talent agent. As a voice-over artist might say in a commercial: you get all this and more! With the story summarized, the novel’s busyness shows. Reidy is restless, moving from narrator to narrator; nearly all the major characters get his or her own section, all in first person (except, shrewdly, for a chapter about Simon before he found his voice, narrated in third). As a result, the novel often feels like it’s stopping and starting; halfway in, readers may think the main narrative hasn’t even begun. But the voices and characters themselves are rich and varied—a reminder that plot, slavishly tended to, can result in stuffy prose. Here, Reidy has fun, and isn’t that sometimes the raison d’être for clear, familiar premises? The more solid the outline, the more fun it is to color outside of it.

Better appreciated as an energetic parade of characters and voices rather than a straightforward narrative.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-94-043055-3

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Curbside Splendor

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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