A multifaceted look at the difficulties and rewards of marriage.

THE INTERMISSION

A couple puts their marriage on hold for six months to find out if they’re better together or apart.

From the outside, Jonathan and Cass Coyne seem like the perfect couple. He makes tons of money working at a hedge fund, and she works in theater marketing. Two beautiful, successful people about to start their own family…what could be wrong? But when Cass’ boss dies and she leaves her job, she begins to have trouble sleeping. As she tosses and turns each night, she starts to suspect that her marriage isn’t as perfect as she’s always pretended it is. Cass spent her childhood in poverty with neglectful parents, and she resents Jonathan and his snobby family for their wealth. And although Jonathan is still deeply infatuated with Cass, her behavior has started to grate on his nerves—for example, the way she feels guilty about hiring a housekeeper. Minor annoyances aside, Jonathan is shocked when Cass suggests a six month separation—or, in theater lingo, an intermission. For those six months, Jonathan will stay in New York and Cass will be in Los Angeles. They’ll live their lives as if they’re single, free to date other people, and when the six months are up, they’ll decide if they want to stay married. While they’re apart, crises occur (Cass’ mother gets sick, Jonathan’s company has a scandal) that make each of them realize why they need the other. Eventually, Cass and Jonathan must decide what’s more important—a “perfect” marriage in which no one is honest or being truly open and vulnerable in front of the person you love. The resolution feels a bit rushed, and Cass' and Jonathan’s decisions are sometimes so frustrating that it’s hard to understand why they’re together. Still, Friedland (Love and Miss Communication, 2015) paints a picture of a complex marriage between two flawed human beings.

A multifaceted look at the difficulties and rewards of marriage.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-58686-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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