A surprisingly complex and realistic love story delicately narrated by an endearing protagonist.


A debut novel follows a girl’s crush as it evolves into a lifelong tale of obsession and passion.

Judith first met Elliot as a fifth grader who had recently moved to Chicago’s North Side in the mid-1950s. Then, he was just a little boy with torn trousers, but over the course of the next 60 years, Elliot would become Judith’s lover, friend, and permanent addiction. “Our relationship was a cocktail mix of rivalry and loyalty—shaken with a strong dose of passion and resentment,” Judith writes of their time as academically competitive sixth graders, which would set the tone for the decades to come. Following the suicide of Elliot’s mother, Judith consoles him while being overjoyed at their relationship’s shift into teenage romance, but college abruptly ends her dreams of a happily-ever-after. Instead, they pursue different paths, with Elliot transforming into a high-powered New York attorney and Judith becoming a divorced social worker in California. Through letters and cross-country trips, they remain in each other’s lives. But Judith always follows their unsaid agreement that she not talk about her love for him. Throughout children, divorces, and even deaths, Klasson brings the two characters together again and again with the same devastating result for Judith, who never gives up on the “man by which I had measured all other loves.” Written in the first person and addressed directly to Elliot, the novel’s prose is strikingly elegant and intimate. What could easily slide into a melodramatic tale of long-lost love turns into a realistic and psychological study of one woman’s deepest thoughts. The author also cleverly develops supporting characters through Judith’s eyes. (Judith’s eventual friendship with Elliot’s second wife and her reactions to Seth, her philandering first husband, are easily some of the narrative’s most memorable and captivating moments.) While the pace of the book’s second half slows down considerably as the two lovers move into old age and toward the bittersweet conclusion of their long journey, Klasson fills every scene she can with thought-provoking reflections on the nature of love, family, and romance.

A surprisingly complex and realistic love story delicately narrated by an endearing protagonist.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-604-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 44

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • New York Times Bestseller


A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?