An engaging tale of family dysfunction and intractable senior citizens.

Things Unsaid

A NOVEL

A contemporary story follows three middle-aged siblings who struggle to care for their aging parents. 

In her debut novel, Paul (Women in Buddhism, 1985, etc.) narrates from the perspectives of Julia “Jules” Foster, Joanne Grant, and Andrew Whitman, the three grown children of Aida and Robert “Bob” Whitman. The novel opens as Jules is summoned to the local police station to retrieve her elderly parents after her father sideswipes a parked automobile and drives through a fence onto a soccer field. As she drives her parents back to Safe Harbour, their elegant assisted living facility, Jules fails to convince her father to acknowledge his diminished faculties and relinquish his license. She also confronts her parents about their mounting debts and her inability to support their extravagant lifestyle. Her parents rely heavily on her financial support, and she finds herself sacrificing the goals and dreams of her daughter, including a college education, to continue bankrolling her folks. As the book progresses, readers meet Joanne, the doting divorcée whom Aida always preferred over Jules, as well as Andrew, who refuses to send his parents so much as a Christmas present. Through many flashbacks and reflective moments, the siblings reveal that during their childhood, Aida was a selfish, overbearing mother with inappropriate behaviors and that Bob was aloof and sometimes cruel. Now that their flawed parents are incapable of caring for themselves, the siblings must decide where to draw the line between obligation and total martyrdom. Throughout the novel, the narrative bounces among the siblings, providing varying perspectives on the characters of Aida and Bob, as well as the multifaceted personal dilemmas facing each of the children they raised. With a grace that is absorbing and deft, Paul tackles many difficult questions, including filial responsibility, depression, marital strife, and sexual identity. She elucidates the challenges of caring for aging parents as well as the pain inherent in losing independence. The author depicts several heart-wrenching conundrums as the three siblings are forced repeatedly to evaluate their personal priorities. This book should particularly appeal to readers facing similar caretaking situations.

An engaging tale of family dysfunction and intractable senior citizens.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63152-812-5

Page Count: 270

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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