Miller (Brand New Human Being, 2012) is refreshing in her approach to abortion, but too many coincidences and parallels in...

THE NEWS FROM THE END OF THE WORLD

This earnest domestic drama set on Cape Cod covers all three bases of family relationships—siblings, spouses, parents and children—as well as the left field of uncle and nieces.

When he finds himself jobless, homeless, and single, 42-year-old Vance comes to stay in the childhood home where his twin brother, Craig, still lives with his second wife, Gina, their two young children, and Craig’s 17-year-old daughter from his first marriage, Amanda. Vance, the seemingly more sensitive if less responsible brother, envies and resents straight-arrow Craig’s relative success, but no one in this family is happy or exactly likable, and each harbors a store of secrets, guilt, moral dilemmas, and resentments. More than $250,000 in debt, builder Craig is desperately counting on two not-quite-solid projects to bail himself out. He also still blames himself for the death of Amanda’s mother in a diving accident 11 years ago. Gina, a Harvard grad with design aspirations, is dissatisfied merely running a boutique. Frustrated in her marriage to uncommunicative Craig, she's tempted into flirtation with the twins’ longtime friend Dov, who plans to have Craig build his new restaurant. The biggest secret of all, and the one that affects everyone eventually, is held by Amanda. Already accepted to Dartmouth (natch, in this novel full of Ivy Leaguers and rich-people problems), she was caught smoking pot at school after her boyfriend, incidentally Dov’s son, dumped her; instead of being expelled, she was sent to Chile, where she met a guy and got “in trouble.” She’s desperate not to be pregnant, but her father is against abortion for reasons from his youth that he is not sharing. Meanwhile, Vance runs into his old high school girlfriend, coincidentally the riding teacher of his poignantly underappreciated 6-year-old niece, Helen, and the guilty secret that has haunted him since their breakup surfaces.

Miller (Brand New Human Being, 2012) is refreshing in her approach to abortion, but too many coincidences and parallels in plot and character connections weaken the novel.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-547-73441-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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