A deeply moving look inside the Palestinian diaspora.

SALT HOUSES

“Nostalgia is an affliction” a character states in Palestinian-American poet Alyan’s impressive first novel, which tracks the dispersal of four generations of a Palestinian family.

As matriarch Salma reads the future in a cup of coffee the night before her daughter Alia’s wedding in 1963, the Yacoub family has already been uprooted for 15 years. In the decades to come the Yacoubs’ distinctly personal experiences will mirror the experiences of immigrants and refugees around the world and the Palestinians’ dislocation in particular. Salma feels lucky; unlike others moved into resettlement camps when Israelis forced them from Jaffa, her husband’s wealth afforded them a house in Nablus. But transience has become the Yacoubs’ way of life. Alia’s older, more traditional sister, Widad, has already moved to Kuwait in an arranged marriage. When the Six-Day War breaks out in 1967, Alia happens to be visiting Widad in Kuwait City while her husband, Atef, and beloved brother, Mustafa, close friends and anti-occupation activists, remain trapped in Palestine. Only Atef makes it to Kuwait, with a secret guilt that will haunt him for years. Unlike her sister, the independent-minded Alia has married Atef, a professor, for love. Their difficult marriage becomes one of the novel’s most compelling elements as the couple creates a life in Kuwait with their three children—Riham, Karam, and Souad—until the 1990 Iraq-Kuwait war forces them to flee to Amman. Karam is sent to college in Boston and becomes an assimilated American despite summers with his kids in an inherited apartment in Beirut. Artsy Souad also ends up in Boston but never feels at home in America. After a divorce, she moves to Beirut, where she re-creates herself. While more traditionally religious than her relatively cosmopolitan siblings, Riham is as disturbed as any Western reader when her adolescent stepson flirts with political extremism. In the next generation, Souad’s daughter finds her own sense of displacement painful yet freeing. It’s not always easy to follow Alyan’s complex geographic and emotional mapping, but this journey is well worth taking.

A deeply moving look inside the Palestinian diaspora.

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-91258-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more