Observant, stirring writing that explores the challenges of openness.

FIND SOMEONE TO LOVE

An Indian optician living in New York City comes to terms with the fact that she’s gay in Sood’s novel.

The story opens in Queens with Priya, a woman with a master’s degree in English who later became “mesmerized by the world of optics.” Currently, she’s mourning the death of her cousin, Prem. As the family prepares to scatter Prem’s ashes into the Ganges in India, she reflects on the tight bond she shared with her cousin and the secrets they shared. Born a day apart in the same hospital in Calcutta, Prem remained in India, a closeted gay man who married and became a father before taking his own life; Priya, meanwhile, relocated to New York, where she fell for fellow student Leyla, only for her love to be unrequited. Priya now works at 20/20 Optical, where her mundane daily life involves awkward interactions with customers and coping with her quirky colleagues—Sam, the owner, who sees the business as his “lifeblood,” and Ed, a lazy yet gifted optician with a mysterious past. Priya’s world is thrown into turmoil when Leyla is unexpectedly hired as 20/20’s new doctor and reveals that she now has a husband. It’s unusual to set a novel in an optician’s store, but Sood makes it work brilliantly, as its workers are endearing and sharply observed, as when Priya describes Sam: “He struck me as someone who didn’t just open a business but poured himself into it.” The narrative is punctuated with precise optician-speak (“rimless frames with hi-index lenses in a minus six or six and a quarter”); however, the crackle of jargon is offset by Priya’s tender inner thoughts, which Sood relates poetically: “what had broken my spirit was that I loved her.” The novel also offers moments of poignant, powerful dialogue along the way: “ ‘We could be in a different place.’ I said. ‘If people just talked about it.’ ” Readers seeking a neat resolution to the story may be mildly dissatisfied, but this makes Priya’s emotional journey no less gripping.

Observant, stirring writing that explores the challenges of openness.

Pub Date: May 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62-601503-6

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Riverdale Avenue Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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