An exhilarating, unsentimental story of one woman’s triumph over a devastating childhood.

A Less Than Perfect Beginning

A debut novel about a young woman who never lets her abusive family life get her down.

Young Beth endures abuse and demoralizing indifference from every member of her family, including her angry father and dismissive mother. Her father quits working and insists that his wife take a menial job to support the family and his alcoholism. Beth’s two siblings both have weighty senses of entitlement, and her younger brother, a racist crook, manipulates her at every opportunity. Beth seeks escape through her friends and her work, and she locks her bedroom door to protect her from her father’s daily drunken rages, but she can’t do anything when he takes her wages to provide half the family income. The book is set in the 1950s and ’60s, and Beth can’t seek outside help from a society only beginning to recognize child abuse. Huffman’s strong prose and Beth’s cleareyed acceptance of her situation give the novel a voice of strength and ambition. Although Beth complains vociferously throughout the book, she knows that the adversity she faces shapes her personality in ways she’d never change. Throughout, she addresses issues squarely, without flinching. Although savvy readers may suspect the truth about a family mystery, Huffman still manages to draw out the suspense. The final chapter lists the various fates of the family members and reads like a detached set of movie credits, but the mother’s fate may come as a shock to readers; she remains a tragic, haunting figure whose motivations and behaviors could bear further exploration. Beth’s later journey through marriage and motherhood is a mere footnote that might have provided more intriguing introspection. Despite a clear, compelling narrative, it also remains ambiguous whether this novel is purely fictional or autobiographical, but it should find a host of interested readers either way.

An exhilarating, unsentimental story of one woman’s triumph over a devastating childhood.

Pub Date: March 14, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2014

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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