A cleareyed look at overcoming family trauma, but several subplots beg further exploration.

Memory Stones

In this debut novel, a troubled woman of 58 battles her many demons by seeking answers to her family’s disintegration and by learning to enjoy the natural world.

As Nia Meyer begins her story, she is fishing alone on the Salt River along Florida’s Gulf Coast. She details the process with an evident understanding of the natural world acquired through her late mother’s Native American heritage and her long absent father’s knowledge of the region and myriad skills. Nia’s boat becomes stuck in mud overnight as a storm rages. She withstands the ordeal, but her fear and isolation prompt long reveries, which are braided through her current situation and explain her unhappiness: “It was a long time ago, when my heart was so broken I could not breathe.” The sudden loss of her husband, a 40-year-old oncologist, sent her reluctantly into therapy decades ago with psychologist Paul Horton. He attempts to relieve her of the burden of her “memory stones”: all of her recollections, painful as well as happy. She stingily offers him small pebbles from her past. She grew up in Florida. When her mother died after becoming involved in a cultish church, their father abandoned Nia and her siblings. The four children were “adopted” by the church’s sinister leaders and unspecified abuse ensued. Nia escaped, met the successful but problematic Joel Meyer, and moved with him to Virginia, where they eventually married. Her psychotherapy enabled her to return to Florida, reconnect with family members and memories, and begin a new social life. The meandering plot touches on Nia’s childhood, her current life, her therapist’s family issues, Native American beliefs, along with much fishing lore, but most issues warrant additional coverage. The language and actions of doctors are depicted unrealistically: Horton describes Meyer’s death to his therapist: “ ‘Brain aneurysm,’ he replied. ‘It blew with such force it turned his brain into hamburger. At least, that’s what the surgeon told my patient.’ ” He later violates ethical strictures by contacting Nia’s sister on his own. The author does reveal some profound insights about abuse and dysfunction in families and how people heal.

A cleareyed look at overcoming family trauma, but several subplots beg further exploration.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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