A nuanced, compelling exploration of isolation and grief.


Two traumatized people make a connection in Weissman’s novel.

Peter Berry isa man who lost his father in a car crash and his mother in a mysterious incident, and Sofia Morales is an Argentinian-born woman who left her husband after their daughter went missing. Now, the pair live across from each other in a San Francisco apartment building, and they slowly open up, sharing meals as well as stories from their pasts. Alternating among the storylines, the episodes serve more to map the emotional landscapes of the characters than to connect the dots of their lives. Peter’s memories are of years spent traveling in Machu Picchu and Sydney and of his mother Sam’s descent into depression following his father’s death. A haunting image resurfaces throughout: Sam sailing away in a bathtub, accompanied by Peter’s teddy bear, Claus. Part memory, part hallucination, this moment holds the key to Peter’s nightmares, his obsessive traveling, and his reluctance to get close to people—a survival strategy that’s put to the test when he meets Carly, a charming museum curator. Sofia’s story unfolds in equally tragic and beautifully rendered flashbacks; her happy marriage to Gaston collapses after their college-student daughter, Valentina, disappears from a protest in Buenos Aires. Sofia tries everything—prayers, repeated inquiries at the police station, even joining forces with an organization of mothers of missing children. In the end, she must face the toll that Valentina’s disappearance placed on her marriage. The novel masterfully dissolves the line between present and memory, between what’s real and what’s imagined to create a touching portrait of family ties disintegrating after a loss. The episodes occasionally meander, and meaning tends to get lost in abstract, if poetic, language; for instance, Sam’s bathtub conversations with Claus will puzzle readers as much as they reveal Sam’s troubled state of mind. Overall, though, the book is an affecting portrait of Peter’s and Sofia’s suffering. San Francisco provides a fitting background with its foggy weather, redwoods, and landmarks that Weissman expertly uses to establish mood and atmosphere.

A nuanced, compelling exploration of isolation and grief.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-59211-174-9

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Addison & Highsmith

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2022

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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