While the role of what Charlie calls “the left-wing Jewish intellectual mafia” during the Cold War remains fascinating (at...

THE UNWITTING

A conspiracy-theory novel about spies, lies and personal loyalty set within the insulated world of left-liberal New York intellectuals during the Cold War era.

Feldman (Next To Love, 2011) begins her novel on the day Kennedy was shot in 1963, tying narrator Nell’s personal marital drama to national events. Something bad has happened to Nell’s husband, Charlie, but before revealing exactly what that something is, Nell relives their relationship: The two meet in 1948 as college students (Barnard and Columbia),  both attending on the GI Bill. From the beginning, Nell, who joined the military to escape a difficult home life, is more the leftist firebrand than Charlie, whose Jewish awareness of the Holocaust has strengthened his patriotism. After Charlie lands a job at the (fictional) magazine Compass, an avant-garde, anti-Stalinist, left-leaning intellectual journal not unlike Commentary or the Partisan Review, he and Nell marry. Before long, he becomes editor in chief; Nell becomes a staff writer. They rent a big apartment on the Upper West Side, send their daughter to private school, attend literary soirées with the likes of Mary McCarthy and Robert Lowell. While Nell pushes Charlie to be less timid as an editor, they survive the McCarthy era and subsequent Communist witch hunts only mildly scathed. They support civil rights; Charlie is the first to publish King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” By Kennedy’s election, cracks have appeared within both their marriage and their intellectual circle. It's to Feldman’s credit that until Nell jumps to the aftermath of the 1963 tragedy, readers will suspect without being sure which of several characters, including Charlie, are not exactly who they seem. Perhaps the strongest section of the novel is Charlie’s journal, in which he struggles through moral dilemmas without Nell’s penchant for self-righteousness.

While the role of what Charlie calls “the left-wing Jewish intellectual mafia” during the Cold War remains fascinating (at least to liberal intellectuals), the schematic quality of Feldman’s plot and characters limits the reader’s engagement. 

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9344-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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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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