This book will not only thoroughly entertain everyone who reads it; it is the most immaculate takedown of slut-shaming in...

YOUNG JANE YOUNG

When a young political intern in South Florida has an affair with her boss, it leads to disaster—at least at first.

The best thing to come out of the Monica Lewinsky scandal since Lewinsky’s own magnificent TED talk, Zevin’s (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, 2014, etc.) fourth adult novel reinvents the familiar story more cleverly and warmly than one would have thought possible. Five sections come at the situation from different angles. The first is called “Bubbe Meise” ("Old Wives’ Tale" in Yiddish), and in it we hear the delightful old-Jewish-lady voice of Rachel Shapiro, a South Floridian who’s dipping her toe into online dating. She’s on a date that’s going quite well until the fellow asks her daughter’s name, and she tells him it’s Aviva, and he remarks that that was the name of that awful girl who got in trouble with Congressman Levin back in 2001. “You really don’t remember her? Well, Rach, she was like Monica Lewinsky.…It was a blight on South Florida, a blight on Jews, a blight on politicians if that’s even possible, a blight on civilization in general.” That's the end of that beautiful relationship. Rachel gives us the outlines of the debacle, after which her daughter disappeared, 13 years ago now. “I have a cell phone number. She calls me once or twice a year. I believe I have a grandchild. Yes, I would call this a sadness in my life.” To reveal more would be to give away too much, since part of the joy here is the unexpected way the story unfolds. I can tell you, as Rachel Shapiro might say, that you will hear from the eponymous Jane Young, who's a wedding planner in a small town in Maine, and that one of the sections is an adroit takeoff on the structure of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, also seen recently in Nathan Hill’s The Nix. Must be generational. References to Monica Lewinsky herself are a running theme, recalling the brutal true story underlying this delicious fictional one.

This book will not only thoroughly entertain everyone who reads it; it is the most immaculate takedown of slut-shaming in literature or anywhere else. Cheers, and gratitude, to the author.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61620-504-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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