An elegant glimpse into the evolution of love and womanhood.

THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE

Church’s debut novel explores the relationship between sacrifice and love.

Set during World War II and the decades leading up to the Vietnam War, the novel follows Meridian Wallace as she transforms from a bright ornithologist-to-be studying at the University of Chicago into an unhappy housewife. While in college she meets Alden Whetstone, a brilliant physics professor who joins the team of scientists at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to work on a top-secret wartime project. The bookish Meridian falls in love fast with Alden’s intense intellect, and the two are married in 1944, at the end of Meridian's junior year. Once she graduates and moves to New Mexico, however, Meridian becomes disenchanted with married life; it isn’t the passionate endeavor she had in mind, and soon she’s off the path to getting her Ph.D. Years later, she falls in love again, this time with a young Vietnam veteran, and is forced to evaluate the choices she’s made up to that point. The story, though spanning several decades, never loses momentum. The writing is descriptive and clean. Church’s commentary on the American nuclear family, particularly the expectations placed on women, showcases iterations ranging from doting housewives and mothers who are content in their roles to the rebellious. Each sentence drives the plot further, exploring love’s limits and its spoils. But it’s Church’s exploration of Meridian’s role in her relationships that is the most gracefully executed feat of the novel. Even while describing Meridian’s disappointment in her marriage, Church’s writing is never overly sentimental. Meridian's voice is poignant, a mixture of poetry and observation: “I cannot escape the beating of my 87-year-old heart, the constancy of it, the weariness of it,” Meridian says in the prologue. “I cannot say with scientific certainty how many times over these many decades…it catapulted with love or capitulated in grief.”

An elegant glimpse into the evolution of love and womanhood.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61620-484-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more