Psychological realism sacrificed on the altar of niceness.

NIGHT OF MIRACLES

Berg’s sequel to The Story of Arthur Truluv (2017) checks in with Arthur’s friends, neighbors, and beneficiaries.

When the saintly Arthur Moses, dubbed “Truluv” by his de facto ward, Maddy, dies, he leaves behind a legacy of kindness. Maddy inherited Arthur’s Mason, Missouri, home, now occupied rent-free by Lucille, his elderly former neighbor. Lucille is the central figure of this installment, although, judging from her dream visitations by the angel of death, it won’t be long before she follows Arthur and her own late beloved, Frank, into the afterlife. For the nonce, however, Lucille’s baking talent has led to a popular class hosted in her kitchen, and her cakes are hotly sought after by Polly’s Henhouse, a local diner. The Henhouse is the site of one major subplot: Iris, a well-off resale maven from Boston, notices that Monica, a waitress, and Tiny, a regular, appear to have a crush on each other but are each too shy to act. Iris and Lucille share a longing for the children each, for different reasons, never had. Iris’ decision was compelled by her ex-husband, Ed, now remarried—with child!—whence her flight to a small town. Seeking distraction, Iris answers Lucille’s call for an assistant. The deepest dives are into Lucille’s sugar- and fat-laden creations—no diabetes fears here. Link, short for Lincoln, Lucille’s neighbor, is raised by vegetarians and must be disabused of such scruples by Lucille, who babysits for him while his mother, Abby, receives treatment for leukemia. We long for more substance as Berg touches on, but does not really engage, topics like aging, mortality, and America’s obsession with appearance. She never acknowledges the contradictions—or the opportunities—presented by Iris’ strange compulsion to forgive Ed, Lucille’s devil-may-care attitude toward buttercream, the weight issues Tiny and Monica share, and the fact that the person with the healthiest diet gets cancer. In this small town, truisms prevail over truth every time.

Psychological realism sacrificed on the altar of niceness.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-50950-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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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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