A vivid and moving novel about heritage, history, and the family bonds that transcend culture.


An absorbing portrait of life in contemporary Afghanistan that is simultaneously raucous and heart-rending, told from a perspective we rarely hear: that of a young émigré returning home to his war-torn country.

In his debut novel, Kochai tells the story of Marwand, a 12-year-old whose family has returned to their home province of Logar, just south of American-occupied Kabul, at the height of the war on terror. Marwand hasn't been to his ancestral home since he was 6; he's an American boy who barely knows life in Logar. Worse, the landscape feels like anything but home: American bases and checkpoints pockmark the land as the central government in Kabul tries to tamp down a raging insurgency, and Taliban fighters roam Logar with impunity. Holed up in his mother's family compound and looking for some comfort, Marwand tries to pet the family dog, Budabash—only to find the wolflike animal less agreeable than the dogs he's used to in America. Budabash bites off a bit of his finger and runs away. Convinced that Budabash is a demon in disguise, Marwand sets out with a band of cousins to track the dog down and bring him back home. But that plot is really just an excuse for an extravagant outpouring of storytelling: Marwand encounters an enormous cast of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, all of whom have stories to tell about their family and the bloody history of the land they call home. The result is a novel that reads like a thrilling collision of Huckleberry Finn, Boccacio's The Decameron, and One Thousand and One Nights. As it careens between tragic stories of Afghanistan's history of perpetual warfare and magical realist tales of djinn, the novel threatens to become unwieldy at times, but Marwand is the thread that holds it together. Endowed with a voice that is at once street-smart and innocent, the boy speaks a language that is distinctly Afghan but retains the marks of his life as an American preteen. When his little brother, Gwora, demands to follow Marwand and his cousins on their quest to find Budabash, Marwand beats him into submission: "After the whupping, I left him in the orchard all crumpled up," he boasts, "...while me and the rest of the fellahs headed out onto the roads of Logar to search all day long for the wolf-dog who, just a few weeks ago, had bitten the tip off my index finger." Marwand's is the voice of an American kid who speaks a bit of Pakhto and whose favorite word happens to be "Wallah!" When Marwand and his cousins hide on top of a roof of the compound to eavesdrop on a conversation or don burqas so they can sneak into a bride's wedding party in search of a cousin's betrothed, the book seems like the very echo of Huckleberry Finn. With beautiful prose that encompasses the brutality of life in Afghanistan without overshadowing the warmth of family, culture, and storytelling, Kochai delivers a gorgeous and kaleidoscopic portrait of a land we're used to seeing through a single, insufficient lens: the war on terror.

A vivid and moving novel about heritage, history, and the family bonds that transcend culture.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55919-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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

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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

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


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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