A first novel as testimony to a mother’s hell—without transcendence.

CHASING JORDAN

Motherhood sinks to an all-time low in Boehringer’s bleak debut, set in the soulless suburbs of South Florida.

Meg O’Hara, a young mother of two, accidentally hits and kills her 27-month-old son, Jordan, as she is pulling into her driveway in her SUV while the father, Paul, is distracted ogling the neighbor in her short-shorts. After this nightmarish start, the only move toward redemption for these unlovable characters is in engendering the reader’s sympathy, but Boehringer rejects that route. Instead, she compounds Meg’s erratic behavior as her guilt almost kills her. Meg harbors deep suspicions about her husband’s fidelity, especially when the suspect neighbor, Susie, seems always to be at their house. Meg herself is the product of an alcoholic mother whose drunken behavior caused the car accident that killed Meg’s father and brother. Now, Meg decides to quit her job as an actuary and, first, spend the day finding things for her and her 11-month-old daughter, Madeline, to do, such as join a self-help group of parents of children with cancer—after a group of parents with dead children rejects her. She drives around a lot with Maddie—like, 58 times slowly through the neighborhood in order to monitor any accidents, then hangs out at the airport bar (with Maddie) drinking wine, where she meets a sympathetic man, Al, whom she considers sleeping with. After witnessing another accident—literally in her front yard—and failing to revive the victim, who happens to be Susie’s married lover, Meg (with Maddie) takes up sneaking into Susie’s house and feeling comforted by her tidy surroundings. As Meg grows more deeply confused, her marriage with conflicted, blameworthy Paul deteriorates. Boehringer seems committed to making Meg sound as ungracious and nasty as possible, her very prose sarcastic;moreover, and Meg’s litany about her unfitness as a mother rings hollow, since the author offers little emotional context for the hand-wringing.

A first novel as testimony to a mother’s hell—without transcendence.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2005

ISBN: 1-85242-893-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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?

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more