A novel that captures the emotional intensity, confusion, and quickness of adolescence.

JUSTINE

It’s the summer of 1999: Kate Moss and Katie Holmes grace magazine covers as Ali, a Long Island teenager, encounters Justine, a checkout girl at the local Stop & Shop who’s almost as tall and thin as a cover girl herself.

Drawn to Justine's real-life glamour, Ali gets a job at the supermarket, and she and Justine become fast friends, or so she thinks. Justine goes from showing Ali the ropes at the store to roping her into risky adolescent behavior, from shoplifting and trespassing to restricting calories and purging. Ali is thrilled to oblige. When they’re not working, she and Justine share intimate moments of female friendship—putting on makeup, sunbathing, and getting drunk. Justine, her boyfriend, Chris, and his friend Ryan live in a posher neighborhood and attend a fancier high school than Ali, but she’s welcomed into their clique for as long as she’s willing to worship Justine’s ways. This is Harmon’s debut novel, and she also provides illustrations; she's done an impeccable job re-creating a very particular moment in time, exploring what it felt like to be a teenage girl when the beauty ideal for women grew to maddening heights. Though there was no social media, the expectations for how women should look were no less ubiquitous than they are now. Harmon’s words and illustrations together show how pervasive and seductive these images were, especially for still-developing minds. While the novel is short on resolution, it’s a propulsive depiction of what a summer in the New York suburbs felt like before iPhones and what a crush can drive someone to do. “Justine took my hand and threaded our fingers together,” Ali says. “I smiled sideways, feeling a weird, tense pleasure, my attention stretched taut between Ryan and Justine like a jump rope being pulled from either side.” Being a teenager is rife with tension, and Harmon confronts the subtle and not-so-subtle violence of coming-of-age.

A novel that captures the emotional intensity, confusion, and quickness of adolescence.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-951142-33-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Tin House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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