A sprawling novel, uneven and overlong yet moving at times.

HER SISTER'S TATTOO

Two devoted sisters become estranged after an incident at a Vietnam protest march in 1968.

Raised by activist parents in Detroit, Rosa and Esther are committed to the anti-war cause. Rosa—fierce, headstrong, and unforgiving—has always exerted a strong pull on her quiet, more pliant younger sister. At the march, in a tear-gas haze, the sisters attack a row of baton-wielding mounted cops, with tragic, unforeseeable consequences. Rosa eventually goes to jail. Esther, the mother of a 5-month-old child, accepts a plea bargain and testifies at her sister’s trials. The novel follows the two women for several decades, charting the fallout from their painful rift and the different paths they choose. Author Meeropol (Kinship of Clover, 2017, etc.) is married to the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed in 1953 for passing atomic secrets to the Soviets. Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, a fellow spy, delivered strong testimony against the couple in court—suggesting a whiff of similarity between the Rosenberg saga and this novel. But Greenglass later admitted to lying on the stand; Esther, while denounced by her sister, is basically telling the truth. In any case, the book seems more concerned with the toll of political activism on families than with the aftereffects of true treachery. Though the end of the novel is never in serious doubt, it takes a while to get there. There are unlikely plot turns (Rosa’s second pregnancy) and a number of awkward moments (the daughters of the two sisters meet for the first time, not quite by accident). Still, the author writes knowingly about left-wing politics from the vantage point of an insider, and she also writes poignant domestic scenes.

A sprawling novel, uneven and overlong yet moving at times.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59709-844-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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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

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