A prospective adoptive mother examines her past and her conscience prior to embarking on her parental journey.

Molly and her husband, Aidan, involuntarily childless attorneys in San Diego, are going through the fraught process of qualifying to adopt. Molly, 38, has a degree of trepidation about how “open” this adoption is expected to be: is the birth mother, Sienna, expecting to be part of her child’s life in perpetuity? Molly’s misgivings are understandable; she herself is the product of a family in which her birth mother, Amalia, lived close by, and she witnessed the discomfort such proximity created for her adoptive mother, Nora. Molly has not told her husband why she's now estranged from both Amalia, who's dying, and Nora—in fact, she's told him almost nothing about her past. The present narrative is interspersed with chapters flashing back 24 years to Morrison Ridge, a large tract of family-owned land in the wooded hills near Asheville, North Carolina: Molly is 14, living with her mother, Nora, and her father, Graham, a psychotherapist who has invented a new behavioral regimen, “Pretend Therapy.” Multiple sclerosis has left Graham paralyzed from the neck down. Molly is a bookish, precocious teen who types Graham’s manuscripts and accompanies him on book tours. However when she falls under the influence of a classmate, Stacy, who introduces her to older boys, the plot takes a major detour through teen-novel territory: Molly’s main preoccupation, enabled by a Judy Blume novel no less, is now losing her virginity. In the meantime, Graham and his relatives are wrangling over the fate of the Ridge: one faction wants to sell to a developer while others, including Molly’s grandmother and Graham, want to keep the land pristine. While the family argues and Molly’s hormones run wild, something else is going on that will make for the explosive revelation at novel’s end. Marred by excessive sentimentality and superfluous exposition that dilutes the drama.


Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-01074-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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

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


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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